If you want to foster a culture of innovation in your business, here are three key things to consider…
Define and endorse ‘innovation’
Before embarking on any journey, it’s usually best to have a goal in mind. In this case, you want to provide a definition of innovation to your team that is both useful and exciting.
There are four main types of innovation, and it’s worth refreshing your knowledge of each, as they provide different frameworks for different problem solving challenges. For the most part, you’ll probably want to introduce your team to the concept of incremental innovation, which means making small, iterative changes as and when you notice a need.
By prioritising this vision of innovation, you’re encouraging your team to stay attentive to where they can improve their own processes, and to share their learnings for the good of everyone. It also takes the pressure off perfectionists, as it requires you to be bold, but also agile: piloting incremental changes before rolling out a wider implementation.
Create a clear process
Whatever your company structure looks like, it’s unlikely that all the best ideas are going to come from senior management. In fact, team members who are out in the field or regularly interacting with customers are probably going to be much more likely to pick up on small but important adjustments that will immediately improve your product or service.
By using idea management software you can provide a dedicated place for collecting, sharing and managing internal feedback. Too often great ideas are lost in complex management chains, but by introducing an easy way to share thoughts, you help to create an entire culture where they’re welcomed!
Take (and give) responsibility
So you’ve talked to your team about what innovation means to you, and provided a simple way to share ideas, but what happens next?
Not every company needs or wants a Chief Innovation Officer, but someone does need to take internal responsibility for sorting, actioning and measuring innovation implementation. You can also look to hire an innovation consultant if you feel that you need some extra support to get started.
However you want to divide up responsibility, make sure that one person is always in control of actioning a specific idea: from the pilot stage, through to full implementation. This can be a great way for team members at any point in their career to engage on a deeper level of engagement with their project, as long as you set clear expectations and give positive guidance along the way. They’ll need to learn to set measurable KPIs, provide results and create a business case: all useful skills that can lead to increased responsibility and career progression down the line.
Recognise positive contributions
If you’re trying to create a culture where innovation is welcomed, you need to start rewarding your team for sharing their ideas. By highlighting great contributions throughout the innovation process, you also help to communicate what it is that you’re looking for next time. Rewarding your team for going above and beyond helps everyone to feel invested in the future of your company.
Once you’ve demonstrated the importance of innovation, provided a clear process, helped individuals to take the reigns, and rewarded your team for participating, you’ll be well on your way to taking your business to the next level. Start talking about innovation today, and you never know where you’ll end up!