Many companies strive to be innovative, but what does that really mean and how can they achieve it?
Innovation is ultimately the process of finding new and better ways of doing things. While this word is often tossed around at Board meetings as something to facilitate, in practice it can be a challenge to work out how to implement a culture of innovation.
That’s because innovation doesn’t just come about if you declare a new company initiative “To be More Innovative!”. Instead it is something that should happen organically, as long as you have done the groundwork to make it possible. So, what do you need to do? Well, you need to strategically and pro-actively nurture and assist in the development of a creative workplace culture. There are many ways to do this and below we have discussed 5 of the top ways you can get started today!
Change the narrative around failure
One way to help boost the creative spirit of your employees is to change the way you perceive and react to failure. If there is an unspoken (or sometimes spoken) rule that failure is not tolerated it can be one of the most stifling roadblocks to innovation. It makes sense though, if you are always being reprimanded or penalised for any errors you make (and let’s face it we’re all human, there will be errors!) well, you’re going to be much less likely to try to voice your ideas in the future.
Here’s an example – say you work for a big corporation and while on the job you noticed there may be a better way to do things. You discuss this with management, and they allow you to trial your new idea but in practice, it doesn’t go as well as you thought it would…
– How management responds to this is the crucial moment!
If – instead of reprimanding the employee for their failed attempt – management takes the approach of accepting the failure and discussing it constructively, using it as a learning exercise, great things can happen!
For example, the employee doesn’t feel like a failure and will instead feel accepted and encouraged to continue to innovate. Let’s not forget, a failed attempt at something is in fact a great source of learnings to see what worked and what didn’t and to investigate why it didn’t work. And it can then help to identify what was missing or what needed to be tweaked for it to work the next time.
When you start to view “failure” like this well, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore. In fact, how can it be failure when you walked away with so much insight for what to do next?
As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!
Create spaces for things other than work
One thing that all of the top “corporate innovators” such as Google have in common, is that they supply space in their offices for things other than work…
While this may seem counter intuitive, after all they’re there to work right? It has actually been seen to hugely benefit companies, particularly those who strive to be innovative. They create mental, emotional and temporal spaces. Allowing space for employees to be creative, take risks and come up with ideas that can advance the organisation. This is because it allows employees to take a break, change their environment and get the creative juices flowing.
Acknowledge effort and achievements
In order to cultivate a truly innovative work culture, it is important that your employees feel appreciated and valued. This can be hard to achieve when the only time they may get feedback from the top is when something goes wrong…
If you want to ensure that your employees are going to be continuously putting in their best effort, well then be sure to acknowledge it when they do! This can be as simple as saying “good job!” or “thank you for all your hard work”. It may seem trivial but if you can start acknowledging the good work and effort of your employees, they will take notice!
Bring together people of all backgrounds
By bringing together people of various social and cultural backgrounds you can use all of their individual and unique experiences to gain greater perspective and ultimately foster a more creative environment.
“Innovation comes ultimately from a diversity of perspectives. So, when you combine ideas from different industries or different cultures, that’s when you have the best sense of developing groundbreaking ideas.”- Frans Johansson
Give them something to get passionate about
While top levels of an organisation can be highly motivated by the company mission, that level of enthusiasm can begin to dilute as we go down the ranks. This makes sense if you really think about it and is no fault of the employees. After all if you own the business it’s your metaphorical ‘baby’, but if you want other people to care about it as much as you do, you’re going to need to give them a reason to.
So, work with your employees to explain to them why this matters and what you are hoping to achieve. While I appreciate not all businesses are going to be selling anything life changing, that does not mean you can’t get involved in a good cause.
For example, dedicating a percentage of profits to help the local community, become more energy efficient… (the list is endless) this can become a motivator for your employees to drive more profits as they are now passionate about your mission.
Are You Interested in Becoming an Expert Innovator?
Do you want to develop your skills to be a successful leader in Innovation? Do you want to kick-start your career and really stand out and improve your career opportunities in this fast growing market?