Balancing the demands of daily operations with the need to innovate can feel like walking on a tightrope. Here's what leaders can do to cultivate an innovative mindset within their teams.

by Patrycja Sobera
Date Published November 30, 2023 - Last Updated November 29, 2023

In today's fast-paced business world, teams often find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of daily tasks. They work hard to meet deadlines, keep customers happy, and ensure their organizations run smoothly. But amid this constant hustle and bustle of business-as-usual, there's a clear call for innovation. The challenge is real: how can we inspire an innovative mindset when everyone is swamped with routine work, and what can leaders do to make this shift happen?

Balancing the demands of daily operations with the need to innovate can feel like walking on a tightrope. On one side, teams focus on meeting targets, doing their jobs, and keeping everything running smoothly. On the other, there's constant pressure to think creatively, come up with new ideas, and move the company forward. It's a delicate balancing act that requires careful handling.

To tackle this challenge, leaders must cultivate an innovative mindset within their teams. This doesn't just mean being open to change; it means committing to finding fresh solutions, challenging the usual way of doing things, and embracing new ideas. It's not something you can switch on and off; it must become an integral part of the company culture.

One effective technique for nurturing innovation is the Provocation methodology. Instead of simply telling teams to "be more innovative," leaders can use this approach to spark creative thinking. Let's take a closer look at how Provocation works:

  • Pushing Boundaries: A provocative challenge sets extreme limits. It might require teams to finish a task in half the usual time, achieve a goal with fewer resources, or approach a common problem in a completely new way.
  • Challenging Assumptions: Provocation encourages teams to question their assumptions about how tasks should be done. What if we ditched the usual procedures? What if we completely changed how we see the problem?
  • Generating Ideas: Faced with a challenging provocation, teams embark on a journey of brainstorming and idea generation. They explore uncharted territory and uncover creative ideas that might not surface otherwise.
  • Teamwork: Provocation often calls for collaboration among team members, even if they're from different departments. It promotes a sense of shared purpose and collective problem-solving.

As a leader at Unisys, an IT services company known for delivering projects on time, I understand the importance of instilling an innovation mindset. I put Provocation to work with my delivery team by throwing them a daring challenge: "Imagine you have only half the usual time to complete a project. You've got just four hours instead of the usual eight, but the client still expects the same quality and functionality. How would you handle it?"

This challenge sparked a transformation. The team started brainstorming, exploring Agile methods, leaner project management approaches, and automation tools to speed up development and testing. Collaboration became crucial, and delivery leaders, developers, testers, and project managers formed a "Team of Teams." They worked closely to identify bottlenecks and streamline processes. The result? A revamped project delivery process that not only met the tight deadline but also improved efficiency and lowered costs.

In the words of Jamil Qureshi, "To act differently, we need to think differently." This simple statement captures the essence of the innovation challenge. While Provocation is a powerful way to kickstart action, it begins with a fundamental shift in thinking. It encourages teams to break free from conventional thought patterns, question assumptions, and explore new territories.
Innovation within the daily grind is not just a wish; it's a necessity for long-term success.

By embracing the Provocation methodology and crafting thought-provoking challenges tailored to the IT services industry, leaders can spark creativity, nurture an innovation-focused mindset, and propel their teams to new heights. All of this can be achieved while maintaining operational excellence. Balancing daily routines with innovation is not an impossible task; it's a promising path to growth and evolution. In today's ever-changing world, innovation isn't an option – it's a must for businesses to thrive.

Tag(s): supportworld, agile, best practice, service strategy


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