How To Encourage Original Thinking Within Your Organisation

The employees who add the most value to organisations may not always be the ones who follow the rules.

The employees who add the most value to organisations may not always be the ones who follow the rules.

Your choice of internet browser may say more about you than you think. According to a fascinating study conducted by Michael Housman, Chief Analytics Officer at software company Cornerstone OnDemand, employees who used Firefox or Chrome ended up staying at their jobs about 15% longer (and were higher performers) than those who used Safari or Internet Explorer, according to the Atlantic.

Why? People who take the time to install Firefox or Chrome have “made an active choice to do something that wasn’t default,” Housman explains. This simple decision indicates that a person is willing to break with the status quo to improve their situation — a character trait that has wide-reaching benefits for an organisation at large. While some people may naturally emerge as original thinkers, companies can encourage all of their employees to resist routine and find opportunities for improved performance in new and unexpected places.

Removing Contexts for Mediocrity

In his recently published book Originals, Adam Grant, management consultant to a host of towering capital giants (Disney, NFL, and Goldman Sachs among them), argues that cultivating originality in the workplace is often a matter of unlearning tradition. The most successful organisations direct employees toward paths of curiosity and innovation, and cultivate a workplace culture centered around outside the box thinking.

Grant observes that non-conformity is often predictive of productivity, according to Forbes, citing Housman’s internet browser study as proof. Mediocrity, Grant suggests, is a consequence of over-familiarity. Despite the earned credibility of traditional perspectives, familiarity may conceal opportunities for innovative thinking that may in turn contribute to increased efficiency and profit.

In order to encourage a ‘growth’ mindset in the workplace, organisations should encourage their employees to question their fixed routines and potentially stifling professional habits.

Embracing Diverse Perspectives as They Emerge

Companies operate smoothly when employees perform tasks correctly and efficiently. But more importantly, there’s an immense opportunity for growth and innovation when employees perform the same tasks creatively. Grant shared a telling example of his own missed opportunity with NPR in February: he lost the chance to invest in the now thriving online eyeglass vendor Warby Parker because he believed the founders lacked entrepreneurial focus.

What he didn’t realise at the time was that their willingness to spread their attentions and gradually brainstorm allowed them to develop the winning marketing model that has made Warby Parker such a smashing success.

Optimizing Work Flow through Task Swaps

Successful innovation begins with building an inclusive culture and encouraging intellectual diversity within the organisation. In order to create opportunities for original and cutting-edge insight, companies must build dynamic teams marked by curiosity and intelligent risk-taking.

In a process Grant refers to as “job crafting”, employees may modify components of their assigned responsibilities in order to improve overall output and efficiency. Those with unique skill sets and talents in the organisation may boost workplace productivity by increasing their commitments to certain tasks.

Organisations may consider allowing for greater dynamism in work assignments, as diversity of opinion is critical for encouraging innovation. Moreover, seeking out innovative solutions to help you hone in on prospective employees’ broad-ranging cultural and creative backgrounds is the key to building inclusive teams and fostering sustainable success in the long-term.

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