You’re not alone. Harold McAlindon says that happens all too often.
McAlindon is president of Nashville-based Parthenon Innovation Group, specialists in certified innovator programs, creativity consulting and training. Parthenon has worked with companies nationwide, including Sara Lee and Jimmy Dean Foods, to translate creative ideas into positive change and a competitive advantage.
McAlindon says leaders need to facilitate ideas, not just ask for them.
"You can’t demand innovation and creativity ... it’s like yelling at someone to relax," he says.
Many businesses move meetings offsite, expecting that an out-of-the-office meeting will promote out-of-the-box thinking.
But it’s not that easy.
"It takes mental stimulation ... removing those things that artificially get in the way of free-wheeling thought ... (and) an environment that actually stimulates or energizes your creativity," says McAlindon.
Considering the cost of meetings materials, facilities, facilitator fees and employees’ time off the job training and development are often the first budget items slashed when the economy takes a downturn. However, McAlindon says businesses shouldn’t slash too much.
"Innovation and creativity have been identified as the No. 1 business need for success in the 21st century," he says.
To make the most of each dollar spent on training and development, McAlindon says it needs to go beyond lectures and handouts and actually help employees retain and internalize ideas. The key is to offer an experience that affects the multiple levels of intellect to increase retention and absorption.
Atmosphere, interaction, participation and change play key roles in training and creativity, he says. The old saying, "What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; but what I participate in, becomes a part of me," is just as true in business as it is in life, says McAlindon.
When the group can’t leave the office behind, make any change possible change who people sit by and who they interact with or take them out of their comfort zone.
"Any time you have change, that stimulates a different way of looking at something," says McAlindon.
How to reach: Parthenon Innovation Group, (615) 386-9960 or www.proinnovator.com