Innovation; it’s on every company’s to-do list. However, few companies actually achieve it. If you are a business owner, you are probably asking yourself how you can achieve innovation within your organization. While there is no clear cut path to innovation, you can foster an environment that is more conducive to it. Here are some tips and strategies for how you can encourage innovative thought.
- Encourage Risk – If your employees are scared of failure, they won’t try new things. Teach your employees to fail and learn from those failures. They can then apply those lessons learned to future tasks. Management also needs to be encouraged to not penalize employees who think outside of the box and try something new, regardless of the outcome.
- Stay Solutions Oriented – Another strategy is to focus on the problem facing your prospective customer. This approach means designing around observations of customer need and getting the job done better than before. The first step is to stay ahead of these wants through research and development, testing, and then rapidly launch. Ask yourself – How can a product perform the same task it is currently doing, more efficiently?
- Continuously Educate Your Employees – Curiosity is often the spark that leads to a new idea. You can ignite that spark by getting your employees excited about something new that they have recently learned. Schedule “lunch and learns” to talk about new ideas and hire speakers to talk about emerging technologies. Most importantly, don’t neglect offering continued training to your employees who are interested in trying to learn something they find interesting.
- Avoid Analysis Paralysis – Testing and refining your idea until it is perfect can be tempting. However, it can be a trap. Don’t wait to launch your idea when it is too late and someone else has already beaten you to market. Learn to test and validate your idea as fast as possible, then polish later. In Silicon Valley, the call this “iterative design”. In other words, get your prototype out first and work on perfecting it later.
- Allow Free Time – Allow at least one day a week where employees choose new projects they want to pursue, as long as they are within your organizational goals. Micromanaging is sure to stifle anyone’s creativity, so allowing for employee autonomy is vital.
- Hold Brainstorming and Collaboration Sessions – Brainstorming sessions make employees feel heard, are great for morale, and bring great ideas to the table. There is little to no downside. To hold effective brainstorming, make sure there are a variety of departments represented. As a plus, if it is a collaborative idea, your whole team will feel invested.
Challenge yourself to implement these tactics and you may find yourself with the next big idea!