Encouraging Innovation in Your Organisation
Innovation is currently a popular buzz word in business and what many organisations are striving for in order to succeed in today’s competitive environment. How can we encourage innovation within our own organisations?
- In order for people to feel comfortable generating, and perhaps more importantly, voicing new ideas, they need to feel confident that they will be met by a receptive audience. This is an attitude which can be fostered by an organisation’s leadership team and management. Ensure that people feel that their ideas are listened to and not disregarded, as this is a sure-fire way to discourage an innovative mindset in employees.
- Diversity within an organisation is a factor which has been shown to lead to greater innovation. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that “companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue, due to innovation” (Forbes, 27th June, 2018). A diverse group will be less likely to fall victim to group think, where everyone simply agrees with the consensus of the group and nobody wants to challenge this.
- The ideas of junior, or less experienced members of staff should be listened to as well as the more senior leaders. While a lack of experience can lead to a lack of awareness of potential pitfalls, this may at times be a good thing. Ideas can then be teased out to see what these pitfalls might be and how to avoid them. But coming up with the idea in the first place without self-limiting beliefs is a good first step in terms of innovation.
- Allow time for innovation – schedule weekly team meetings where employees can bounce ideas off each other. Some companies, allow employees a set amount of time to take during their working day to work on ideas which may not be strictly related to what they are currently working on, but this time can allow for people to consider possible ideas which they may not otherwise have thought of.
- Implement good ideas. Employees who take the time to come up with new and innovative ideas will quickly become frustrated if the idea is not used, or at least tried out, despite it being a good one. If the idea is not deemed suitable, feedback should be given to the employee as to why this is, so that they are not discouraged from submitting ideas in the future.
- Reward employees who come up with innovative ideas. The rewards need not be monetary, they may come in the form of praise and recognition, increased holiday days or more flexible working hours. For the best results, try to tailor the reward to the individual so that it is something which is actually important to them. Some may be highly motivated by public recognition, while others may dislike being the centre of attention. Try to reward employees in a way which is meaningful to them.
- Adapt what is already a success – Apple was named as the most innovative company of 2018, but as Steve Jobs put it “we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. Don’t be afraid to look at what your competitors are doing and finding a way to improve on it. Or look further afield, at other industries and “steal” from their successful ideas.
- Failure should not be frowned upon – in fact ‘intelligent failure’ should be accepted as part of an innovative organisation. It is impossible for all ideas to succeed, but if fear of failure prevents people and organisations from trying, innovation is far less likely to happen. Learn from failures and see what could be done differently the next time around.