MIT’s Andy Pentland says the best decision-making environment for good ideas to spread is one with high levels of both “engagement” and “exploration”.
For the above to happen on a tactical level, Harvard’s Teresa Amabile, author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, identified 6 things that companies and managers can do to support and inspire creative work:
People need to engaged with their work, that means having bold goals but also assigning the right person to the right project.
Companies should define goals but let employees have some autonomy in how to get there. Basically, let people figure out the right path forward and not get in their way.
Too little time or money can dampen creativity at work.
A safe way to kill creativity is to encourage homogeneous teams. These groups will find incremental solutions, not bold ideas that break from precedent. For that you need a diverse group of people who don’t view the world the same way.
Support and recognition for trying by higher ups and colleagues is essential for creative work.
Companies that mandate information sharing and collaboration while discouraging politics will see creativity thrive.
Bottom line: Leaders that want to build an organization that innovates consistently must provide six things to employees: challenge, freedom, resources, design for diversity, encouragement and support. In other words, you can put it like this: Have bold goals, get out of the way and reward people for trying.