Whether it be creating Ducere and offering online business courses taught by world leaders, to building and selling a number of successful businesses both in Australia and overseas in property development, sales and education; Ducere Centre of Management Founder Mat Jacobson has always thought outside of the box when it comes to his projects.
Leveraging from his background in law, he has developed an international reputation for ethical interactions, which he uses to engage industry elite across areas as diverse as government, business, philanthropic and academic.
In setting up his most recent venture, Mat wanted to share his passion for education and in an innovative move, developed the world-class online tertiary education program, Ducere, which operates as an online tertiary business school, fully self funding the philanthropic Ducere Foundation.
Mat credits much of his success to his ability to embrace innovation in the workplace and motivate creativity in others. It’s this innovative thinking that has helped him to see beyond the usual business constraints and create inspirational organisations with a broader purpose.
Here he shares his top five tips for fostering innovation.
1. Hire for culture and value diversity
It may sound obvious, but if you want an innovative workforce, you need to start with the basics. The people who surround you are likely to have a big influence on the workplace culture you develop, so keep this in mind when you’re building your team.
Look for people that understand your vision and the culture you want to build, but it’s also important that you seek people who have their own ideas and don’t agree with you every single time. Sometimes a different opinion will help you find a new way forward.
Celebrate and embrace each of your team’s individual qualities and watch as they naturally encourage innovation and creative thinking, building your business in the process.
2. Predict the unpredictable
People think business is all about sitting in business meetings and having serious business thoughts. But innovation comes from creating, combining, merging or developing, novel ideas. The spark for Ikea was when its founder, Ingvar Kamprad was on holiday in New York, visiting the Guggenheim Museum. His hard-working staff thought that the boss was holidaying when he should be on the shop floor, but while walking around the Museum with it’s organic traffic flow floor plan, forcing people to view all the exhibits, inspiration hit: “What about a structured journey in a furniture store!”
You never know when two seemingly unconnected ideas might lead to innovation. Applying this traffic flow system to Ikea resulted in a significant increase of spontaneous purchases.
Always seek the unfamiliar and question how something superficially unrelated may in fact be your greatest idea.
3. Passionately passionate
To keep innovation alive, you need to stay passionate, and what better way to do that than by surrounding yourself with energetic and passionate people?
Work on developing your teams so they are driven by the same force, will share your passion and are excited to come into work every day because they believe in your dream. Being focused on a common goal is the best way to achieve your objectives.
4. The blame game
To encourage innovation, your team needs to feel confident that their ideas are valued, and safe to make an occasional mistake. Try to avoid placing blame and pointing fingers, instead instil boundaries then let your teams be creative with their ideas.
Every idea doesn’t need to be put into action, but the thought process around getting them out there is crucial and will lead to even better ones! Foster idea sharing and it will show in the results.
5. Keeping it balanced
There’s no doubt that if you do the same thing, day in and day out, you will begin to get stale, your ideas will dry up and innovation will likely be difficult to foster.
Take time out to refresh both your mind and your body, so that you can come back invigorated with a heightened drive and sense of purpose.
Even if you can’t find the time to jet off on a holiday, taking small breaks, spending time with inspiring and diverse people or doing an activity that you enjoy will enable you to reap the rewards of down time, so you can come back to your desk inspired and ready to shine.
Encourage your team to do the same, and collectively you will benefit from the results.