17 ways to foster an innovation culture in your business

Clients often ask us how they can start implementing and also how they can foster an innovation culture within their workplace. There are as many ways to do this as there are companies, but here are 17 great ones.

Andrew Tolson
by Andrew Tolson
innovation culture

Innovation as BAU – that’s the dream for most companies and the theme of our Innovation Breakfast event set for September this year.

Here at Idea Drop, it’s not enough for our clients to feel excited about innovation. We want them to see it as part and parcel of their everyday working routine. To do this, it’s not enough to simply implement a new process or two. Having an innovation culture is about making a cultural shift that makes consistent innovation the ‘path of least resistance’ in your working life.

Culture, however, is an abstract term. When it comes to changing it, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we put together this giant list of exciting ways you can foster an innovation culture in your company.

1. Make your intentions clearsimply communicating your vision for a culture of innovation in your workplace can start the cognitive wheels turning for your team. Make sure this is your first step.

2. Lead from the front – an organisation’s culture is broadly determined by its management style. Make sure your business leaders are taking the first steps in putting forward new ideas and processes.

3. Reward failure – not every idea is going to pan out, but the culture of innovation that each failure represents is always valuable. Your team needs to know that their contributions are important even if they don’t work.

4. Reward success – of course, a successful idea is always better. Make sure innovators are celebrated in your company and that they stand as examples to inspire others.

5. Take ownership of problems – you can’t find a solution without them! Identifying and taking ownership of problems empowers you to innovate your way around them.

6. Build a flat hierarchygreat ideas can come from anywhere. It’s important that everybody has access to decision makers and has the chance to put forward their ideas.

7. Find innovation evangelists – if you want innovation culture to spread to all corners of your business, you’ll need a team with a vested interest in its success at all levels. Evangelists help to power innovation and inspire others to do the same.

8. Think about the process – structure is the best way to deal with any business transformation. Platforms like Idea Drop help you to systematise your innovation methods for maximum results.

9. Track with KPIs – data is a fantastic tool for capturing a bird’s-eye view of the state of innovation at your organisation. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our article on innovation KPIs.

10. Create space – our mental spaces are often connected to our physical spaces. Having a place specifically designed for enabling creativity can go a long way towards inspiring your team.

11. Make time – it’s hard to be creative when you’re bogged down in spreadsheets. Make it a priority to give time over to creative thinking. Monday morning is the perfect slot – it helps you start the week off right.

12. Be diverse – diversity in both staffing and skills is a proven catalyst for creativity.

13. Follow through – if your team is going to take the time to be creative, you need to make sure there’s an impact. Make sure your innovation process is integrated with a rigorous project management tools.

14. Hire the best – candidates with a history of innovative performance are likely to repeat their past successes. Make sure you make innovation a priority at every interview.

15. Inspire – it’s hard to make progress when you don’t know where you’re going. A powerful shared vision can help propel innovation forward.

16. Help them explore – your team needs access to the raw materials of innovation, and that means broadening their horizons. Books, learning materials and success stories all help bring new ideas into the mix.

17. Look outside – outside help can often be the catalyst for change. Bring in guest speakers, consultants and educators for a new perspective on your problems.

That’s a handful of our best ideas. If you want to find out how other companies do it, join us in September at the Innovation Breakfast. You’ll learn about new ways to foster an innovation culture at your company.

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