Whether you agree with it or not, innovation is an essential part of the business world. Businesses who don’t innovate and advance will not stay in business forever. Look at all of the business which has gone by the wayside because they didn’t innovate: Radio Shack, Toys R Us, and Gateway Computers are examples of business that didn’t innovate when they had the chance. It’s easy to say you know that you need to innovate, but how do you work to increase innovation in the workplace? We have some ideas.
Innovation Happens Because of Collaboration
Usually when people innovate, they don’t do it in a vacuum. People are more innovative when they are creating with a group of others. Working in teams aids collaboration and encourages innovation. You can encourage collaborative teams by making workspaces available where collaboration is possible. You can also bring in team members from other areas of the business that can make the team stronger because all aspects of the business would be on the team.
In order to prime the pump of innovation and collaboration, you’ll need to do the talking. Pump up the importance of collaboration at meetings and get-togethers or strategy sessions. Offer incentives and rewards for collaboration as well. If you encourage collaboration, you’ll be able to witness the innovation for yourself.
Eliminate Some Red Tape
Innovation has difficulty making it in a sea of red tape. While some red tape is typical of any bureaucracy, too much red tape means that it is difficult to innovate. In order to encourage innovation, you’ll need to cut through some of that red tape. There are several ways to do this. You might want to make it a manager’s responsibility to consolidate all of the red tape, and cut down the steps between idea and innovation. You may also want to create an innovation team to listen to new ideas. The more you can streamline the flow through for innovative ideas, the more innovative ideas will make it through to fruition.
Tear Down the Tedium
It’s hard to be innovative in the middle of doing repetitive busy work. While all jobs have some paperwork, you’ll need to cut down on the amount of tedious paperwork for innovation to thrive. Research shows that innovation takes place when workers are busily creative but not overwhelmed. If you create an innovation team, you may want to ask them how to innovate away some of the busywork.
It’s no fun to be innovative if you don’t get rewarded for being creative and innovative. Put your thinking cap on and think of ways to reward creativity. Many companies offer a percentage bonus if employees come up with innovative ideas for new products or services, or ways to make the company more streamlined. You may also want to have monthly drawings for prizes for innovative ideas, such as gift cards or trips. The more you reward innovation, the more innovative your employee will want to be.
Look for Outside Inspiration
Sometimes it is hard to be innovative when you are looking at the same group of people every day. Lots of companies that are innovative get help from outside the company. They find experts or conference speaker bureaus to help motivate your employees. There are lots of innovators that love to talk about ways to be creative and innovative. If you can’t think of ways to motivate your team, an outsider may be an extremely valuable source of information.
Make Sure Senior Management Is Supportive
Innovation can’t exist in a space where upper management doesn’t support it. You need to make sure all senior management is behind innovation and creativity. When someone on the team has a creative idea, and it benefits the company, senior management needs to be aware of where the idea came from. Who knows, the upper management may want to spend a little money towards making a collaboration and innovation room, or supply a trip for the most innovative idea in the company during the year. No employee will want to be innovative if management doesn’t support it.
Transparency and Trust
If you have a team working on innovative ideas, you need to make sure that each team member understands that the entire group will get credit for the idea. You need your team members to know that the whole act of innovation has to be transparent, because ideas flow best in an environment of trust and cooperation, where everyone gets credit for the effort. If you don’t foster an aura of innovation, no one will want to tell other team members anything.
Identify Areas That Need Innovation
One way to encourage innovation is to develop areas within the company that needs to be innovative. You can ask employees to brainstorm where those areas within the company are and prioritize which areas need to be innovated first. If you have a list of where to begin, who knows what ideas will flow during the brainstorming session? Some of the best ideas companies have begun as a brainstorming topic for the company.
Bring Food In
This may sound silly, but if you are working on innovation, you need to make sure that you feed your team. Having food brought in helps the brain to get nourishment, but it also shows the employees that you value their input and you want them to be successful. Sometimes, it’s not the food you have brought in, but the idea that you value the team’s time, and you know they need a break is all you need to do to get the conversation and the innovation flowing.
It is a fact of life, if your business doesn’t innovate, it won’t survive for long. In order to encourage innovation, you may have to get a little more creative yourself. You can create an informal space for employees to gather and chat, or you can have a room available for innovation. When you encourage innovation on a daily basis, you are doing what you need to do to move your company forward. Innovation not only leads to creativity, it also leads to a greater understanding of your employees, and moves all of you forward into a more successful future.