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June 8, 2012
Innovate Your Work Life
We’ve all heard of the concept of “disruption.” Commonly linked with innovation, it tells us that to make progress, you must first adopt a new vantage point and challenge the status quo. Disruptive innovation strategies are routinely applied to the inner dynamics of organizations and the transformation of products — and they can be applied to your job and career.

Work needs to have meaning.
We know that the content of our work affects engagement, and continuing to develop at work is key. Many people feel that something is missing in their work lives, yet they are not exactly sure where the root problem lies. They might feel that their work is stale or non-productive. They may feel that their contribution has become less than relevant.
Lack of growth can become a looming issue, as the “same old, same old” of everyday work life takes it toll. It’s not that we crave havoc in our work lives — just enough stimulation to keep us moving forward.

Innovate with vision.
Changing your work life for the better involves stopping for a moment to think about where you are and where you want to go. This involves taking a fresh look at your job, your organization, and the potential opportunities that exist. Ask yourself: What types of projects would I find inspiring? What individuals would I like to work with? How can my work be revolutionized?
  • Innovate your job “around the edges." You don't need to turn your entire work life upside down to disruptively innovate. Negotiate a day per week working at home. Pursue a new mentor in an area in which you would like to gain mastery. Advocate for training that will change your ability to contribute.
  • Get your recommended dosage of challenge. Challenge can be stressful, but it goes hand in hand with growth. Actively search for interesting projects that will push you forward. Meet with your manager to discuss opportunities to get involved. Experiencing a stretch assignment may be just what you need.
  • Change your physical work environment. What encourages you to feel productive is a bit like a Rorschach. There is no wrong answer to the question; the question simply needs to be posed. Look around and ask yourself: What can be altered in your physical workspace to get your energy flowing?
  • When collaborating on a project, bring in fresh blood. Don't underestimate how the opportunity to meet other experts can invigorate your workday. Talk to employees tangentially related to your function and pick their brains for inspiration concerning improvements related to systems and products.
  • Complete a cohort "blitz." What is new and exciting to others in similar roles to your own? Discover what is cutting-edge and developing in your corner of the job globe. If you hear buzz about a new direction, find out more. Join a chat on Twitter. Attend a conference. Get into the thick of it. You get the idea.
  • Keep trying. Successful innovation requires perseverance. Try numerous ideas to change your work, but accept that small failures may be a part of the process. Don’t give up.
In today's tight economy, opportunities for job movement are limited. As a result, finding satisfaction in your current role may require innovation. Attempt to change your mindset and open up your world.

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Organizational Psychologist who specializes in work survival strategies, corporate culture, and organizational change. She is a Practice Manager at Rand-Gottschalk & Associates, a consulting firm that helps employees and businesses excel.  She is author of the blog The Blend, which addresses current workplace topics and issues and also serves as a LinkedIn Influencer.
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