How did your personal review of 2011 go? And as you reviewed your business successes and problems, what was your mood? Many of us were feeling a bit conflicted – from fears, relief, and hope.

Most executives have spent the last few years pushing for efficiency and ‘doing more with less’. While many of these activities may have been necessary, they also crowded out the options for growth and future success.

Now everyone is telling you to encourage innovation, enhance creativity, and worry about retaining top talent. Your employees need flexibilty and opportunity – plus good pay and benefits. Your business needs new ideas and products and services.

Feeling swamped? Tired?

Innovation and creativity demand focus and time. You have 168 hours per week to use. Sure some of that time goes to sleeping, eating, chores – but you must decide what is important and use some of your time for those needs. Whether you are an early bird or night owl, carving out some time each day to just think, to read, to focus on a critical issue for your future is vital.

Yet most of us are ruled by our electronics and our interruptions each day. We make grand ‘to do’ lists but do not schedule blocks of time to get work done without interruption, without checking our email/phone/connections. And only you can do this for you!

The comfort of old practices may negate our natural flexibility and hamper innovation and creativity across the organization too.

Get out and listen

Have you actually talked with your employees, one-on-one, at any length recently? Do you know what they are interested in, think needs attention, want to contribute? You might be happily surprised at what you learn.

Have you made time to meet with and listen to the people you know who have interesting insights or terrific industry knowledge or are wildly creative? Just think of how that could support your efforts to enhance your own creativity.

Sure this is easy to write, to talk about. But what are you doing? And what message does that send across your organization?

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