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Unleash the Innovator Within

Hitting a roadblock when it comes to reaching the next level of business growth? Here are five ways to unlock your hidden potential.
February 3, 2006
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83284

Whether you're leading a Fortune 500 company or a four-employee startup, all business owners have one thing in common: You confront roadblocks to innovation on a daily basis. One of the greatest challenges facing today's entrepreneurs is finding and growing the type of innovative thinking your companies need to survive. But with the right approach, you can uncover hidden leadership and strategic capabilities in both you and your employees. Skeptical? You shouldn't be. Here are five key ways to unleash the hidden potential in your business and achieve high levels of success:

1. Think two generations ahead. Envision your company 50 or even 100 years from now, even if you don't foresee your product or service lasting that long. Such forward-looking reflection creates an umbrella for long-term innovation to occur.

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2. Confront and partner with the unconscious. Experts suggest that of all the experiences, knowledge and data stored in our minds, we are only "conscious" of and actively use just 10 percent of it. The other 90 percent resides in our "unconscious"--it's this part of our mind we can tap into for valuable insights.

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3. Aim to increase energy, not just efficiency. Do a quick energy audit of your employees to understand what energizes the staff and fuels their personal growth. If you understand what energizes them, you'll be able to implement actions that motivate your employees and increase productivity.

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4. Establish the freedom to innovate. Creativity drives change. So tap into your employees' intuitive side by ritualizing "ingenuity time" on the job. Utilizing creative techniques can often help people see issues more clearly and open doors to potential solutions.

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5. Start all problem-solving by taking responsibility. Any problem you're directly involved with that you wish to solve requires reflection on your role and responsibility related to that problem. While you may not be the primary cause of the problem, reflecting on your role will help you better understand and acknowledge how you may have contributed to it.

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Charlie Fleetham is the founder and president of Project Innovations, a company that delivers innovative organizational and leadership development solutions to businesses and government. Fleetham has more than 20 years of experience as a management consultant and is the author ofThe Search for Unrational Leadership: Using Rational & Irrational Methods to Change Your Life.