How to get your team’s innovative juices flowing

It’s no secret that innovation is a driving force behind new products, sustainable economic growth and job creation. But trying to get the innovative juices of a team flowing has stumped many a manager.

A recent survey of about 1,400 US CFOs pinpoints the biggest roadblocks.

Thirty-five per cent of the CFOs blamed a lack of new ideas. Another 24% said there’s too much bureaucracy for creativity to flourish in their companies, and 20% said they’re too bogged down in daily tasks and putting out fires.

To get past the roadblocks, Robert Half International—the specialised staffing firm that developed the study—offers some tips.

“Build in time for brainstorming sessions and other activities that help employees step outside their comfort zones and daily routines,” Max Messmer, Robert Half’s chairman and CEO, said in a press release.

How do you do that? Some suggestions include:

  • Cultivate an environment in which staff at all levels can easily share solutions for improving the business.

  • Examine internal processes to ensure company procedures aren’t generating unnecessary red tape.

  • Create policies that support the open exchange of information and a team-first atmosphere.

  • Support “blue-sky thinking” and rein in the naysayers.

  • Implement programmes that promote work/life balance and consider bringing in temporary professionals during peak activity periods to prevent burnout on your team.

  • Occasionally get away from your desk, unplug by going for a head-clearing stroll and seek inspiration.

Sabine Vollmer ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.