Hackernoon logoActionable Ways to Inspire Innovative Thinking in the Workplace by@aditi_syal

Actionable Ways to Inspire Innovative Thinking in the Workplace

Aditi Hacker Noon profile picture


Copywriter at Concurate.

Lead image courtesy of fancycrave1 on Pixabay.

Innovative thinking is a prowess that can be honed. Like everything else, it takes a little practice and some encouragement doesn’t hurt. The Innovator’s DNA becomes more proficient with developing 5 key discovery skills:

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

There is an interesting read around it - "22 Tips to Master the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators". For now, we have some fun, actionable tips for you to implement hands-on learning of these skills in your workplace. 


Encourage out-of-the-box associations. Engage your employees in activities that spur out-of-the-box thinking. Have puzzles, games, and exercises in the pantry / lunchroom, or send one in an e-mail every day.

Here’s one you could use:

Have a “Dress Like Your Inspiration Day” at work where your employees can take on a different persona. 

Have a community curiosity box in your office space. Have employees drop things into the box throughout the month. In a monthly office meeting, overturn the box and open it up to discussion and ideas.

Dedicate time every week for a question storming session where you discuss why you’re doing a given task or why you have provided a certain recommendation to a client or why you chose a particular approach for the development of a particular idea. 

Encourage more questions at team meetings. Maintain a community question bank in a visible space to spur innovation.

The spotlight can be scary for some. Facilitate a break-out session at tables or in small groups of two or three and ask employees to generate their questions or concerns in writing. Let someone from each group then volunteer to share these questions. 


Pick a random day each month and change something around the office. See how many people observe said change and let employees observe and study the reactions to said change.  

Educate your employees on the economic value of innovation. 

Be a good observer yourself. Let your encouragement and praise be specific. Observe genuinely to give the right feedback and suggestions. It always works best to teach by example. 


Plan a fortnightly lunch across teams within your office. Encourage intermingling and exchange of ideas for new perspectives. In 2008, Google and P&G swapped workers to spur innovation. The exchange led to an interesting exchange of ideas including Google’s employees introducing P&G to the world of “mommy bloggers” to boost sales. 

Have a “bring your friend to work day” bi-monthly where employees can bring friends from different backgrounds to interact over board games or a book reading.

The wider and more diverse one’s network, the better innovative thinking gets. Engaging with people from diverse backgrounds allows one to gain different perspectives, therefore become better thinkers.

Here’s an activity for your employees:

Exercise - Ask your employees to prepare a list of their go-to persons for ideas and reflect on the diversity of their networks as shown below.


Celebrate innovations publicly - Run a monthly contest where the best idea for the month can be developed into a prototype using company resources. Gift your employees a course of their choice unrelated to their daily jobs as their birthday present. 

Pick up an old product - maybe one that didn’t see the light of day or something that you think has the potential to be remastered for the market today. Encourage your employees to revamp it for the market and relaunch an old classic.

We hope these ideas will help your employees build the 5 discovery skills!

Here are 7 tips to change the environment in the workplace to become one that encourages innovative thinking.


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