Spark occurs when people’s creative energies are flowing.

Spark means providing people with the freedom to explore new ideas without fear.

Spark means people feel deeply engaged in devising ways to improve the business.

Spark happens when there’s a big vision, clearly communicated, and the entire team is focused on achieving that vision. It exists when there are clear performance measures tied to the things that matter and performance is evaluated fairly and consistently.

Spark is related to the idea of “flow”

"Flow" was first introduced by the social psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In great organizations, trust and spark feed off one another. Trust sets the stage for productive innovation (i.e., innovation that is in service to the goals of the organization). When you build trust, people become open to change. By energizing employees with spark, you unleash the innovation that makes an organization vibrate with new ideas and real purpose. Together, trust and spark create a culture in which people feel deeply engaged and committed to the company’s success.

It’s easy to spot companies with high levels of spark:

People feel free to challenge the status quo.
People go way beyond what you normally expect.
People feel their work is fun.
People feel unconstrained by rank or hierarchy to suggest improvements.
People aren’t afraid to share their ideas about how to improve things.

3M is a good example of a company that focuses on trust and spark.

Its “15 percent rule” enables employees to spend 15 percent of their work time exploring and conducting experiments. Technical employees can apply for internal corporate grants to fund innovative projects they want to pursue. It’s this careful nurturing of innovation that has resulted in products like ScotchGard™ and Thinsulate™. Giving employees a day each week to innovate as they choose is a practice at many leading companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

This post was written by Eric Douglas and shared in the Innovation Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators Network on LinkedIn which QuoLux is part of.

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