Think there is only one way to make your organization more innovative? According to Nancy Napier, executive director of Boise State University’s Centre for Creativity and Innovation, there are actually six ways to improve innovation in your company.

To arrive at these results, Napier studied seven organizations for the past decade, including the Trey McIntyre Project dance company, health information provider Healthwise, the Ada, Idaho, county sheriff’s office and the Boise State University football team. Napier found that despite the differences in the missions of these companies, these organizations were linked by their willingness and desire to be creative. According to Napier, other organizations can follow in the creative footsteps of these companies by following these six steps:

[World's Most Innovative Companies Named]

  • Look outside your own field for ideas: "One person said years ago, that when best practices are documented, they become normal practices," Napier said. "He defined new ideas as looking outside his own field."
  • Creativity doesn’t just happen: "Many people think that creativity just happens, but in fact, blending structure with creativity is much more powerful," she said. "Having a disciplined approach and process then allows an organization to be more creative in coming up with ideas. Structure and creativity go together."
  • "Aha" moments don’t just happen: "There are ways to encourage creative ideas, but specifically, you can look at things in a new way, look at them from a reverse way and blend unusual ideas," Napier said. "Each of these organizations, and particularly the leaders, think in ways that help them come up with 'aha' moments. That has become a part of who they are and what they do."
  • Fear complacency: "All of these organizations are terrified of keeping things the same way and they are always looking for a new way to do things," Napier said. "They push themselves on that always. Even if they are on top of their game, they are always asking, 'what can we do that is better or different?'"
  • Turn a disadvantage into an advantage: "For example, the dance company I studied looked for many different places to settle in before coming here (Boise, Idaho)," she said. "The arts community said this was a disadvantage, since they were so far away from donors and the source of new dancers. They took it as an advantage because when people came here to join, they knew they were very committed to the company and they could make a difference in the community. What appeared at first to be a disadvantage was really an advantage for them."
  • You can change your mind, but not your mission: "The first time I talked to Chris Petersen, coach of the Boise State University football team, about creativity, his response was, 'I'm not creative. I'm all about structure,'" Napier said. "He has since changed his mind and has become a huge advocate for the idea of doing things differently. He has the same mission of what he wants to accomplish and what he wants for his program, but he is changing his mind on how he wants to do things.

"The leaders are key in all of this," Napier said. "The idea of looking far beyond your field for ideas is absolutely critical for these people. These groups never put off creativity to tomorrow. It is a part of how they think. It has to be so ingrained in the organization, that it is not something they set time aside for, it is like brushing your teeth to them."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89. 

Copyright 2012 BusinessNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.