My father was a a great farmer and through his life trained also to be an amateur in many fields. He was an engineer, a mechanic, an agronomist, a vet, a meteorologist and many other things – and all these skills were obtained through the lost art of experimentation (what he would have called necessity).

His skills were gained when problems arose and he needed a solution, he watched experts and learned from them, he tinkered with things that weren’t working as well as they could, he learnt on the job – and as a result (combined with a lot of very hard work) he created a very successful business.

With such a large focus on innovation the big question is “how do we get our people to innovate”?

Well I think Dad’s approach to innovation is a pretty good method.

Your people should have access to experts, people who are good at what they do and are prepared to share their methods – not people who come in to fix a problem and depart leaving no deeper understanding to your people.

Your people should have the freedom to tinker with things – experiment to improve processes, develop better products and generally take the business to the next level – not be so busy that they can barely complete their day job let alone think about potential improvements.

And all this takes time – if you’re not prepared to budget ‘learning’ and ‘tinkering’ time you’ll never set your teams free to innovate.

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Written by Lisa Smith

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Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.