As a business owner, one of the most important things you can do to promote success is to encourage innovation at your company. Stagnation is death in the corporate world, and you have to always be thinking about whether there’s a better way to be doing things. But you can’t come up with all the great new ideas yourself – you need a culture of innovation at your company.
But creating such a culture isn’t always easy. How do you encourage people in your company to come up with amazing new ideas that will grow your bottom line? Read on to learn how to encourage a culture of innovation at your company.
Empower Your Employees
One of the best things you can do to create a culture of innovation in your workplace is to empower your employees to suggest new ideas. Too often, high-level managers view workers as something akin to drones. They’re there to do the drudge work, not to generate ideas that change your company.
But let’s say you’re running a company with 500 employees and fifty senior-level managers. How many ideas will you be able to generate with just 50 people, as compared to 500? Crowdsource your innovation by giving every employee space to suggest new ideas and rewarding those who come up with something that works.
Involve Every Area Of Your Business
Even if you’re allowing for innovation at every level of your business, you need to be sure to encourage it in every area of your business, too. Too often, we tend to think of innovation as something related to r&d tax credits or marketing efforts, not something coming from the janitorial staff. But let’s imagine for a moment that one of your janitors comes up with a plan to increase recycling and decrease waste.
By decreasing the amount of trash your office is producing, you could save money on trash removal services and potentially on new supplies (depending on the type of recycling you’re doing). Your janitors will be able to focus more of their time on things like preventative maintenance that keeps your building running more efficiently. And your marketing team can have a field day with the steps your company is taking to help the environment.
Innovation should come from every facet of your company, so be sure you’re offering those opportunities.
Allow For Failure
The other crucial part of crowdsourcing your innovation is allowing for failure. Every brilliant idea is going to start with a few failures, and people who are afraid to try something new for fear of losing their jobs will never create any innovation. Failure is never fun for a company, but it shouldn’t be something your employees are afraid of.
Put systems in place to review ideas thoroughly and think of everything that could possibly go wrong with it before you launch those ideas. When failure happens, acknowledge it, and ask what you can learn from it. But most importantly, don’t punish the employees who came up with the idea if it doesn’t go right.
Learn From The Past
Although it’s important to allow for failure, that doesn’t mean you should blow past mistakes with no examination or discussion. In fact, those mistakes can be some of the most valuable experiences your company has. Now you know one more way not to build a lightbulb, as Thomas Edison would have said.
When mistakes happen, sit down with the people involved and discuss what happened and why things didn’t work. Brainstorm together ways that you could have prevented the mistake or, if you couldn’t, what the original flaw in the plan was. That way, the next time your team comes up with an idea, you’ll have the tools you need to make it work better.
Keep Things Moving
While every idea should be reviewed carefully before it’s implemented to try to prevent as many mistakes as possible, you should also be able to keep things moving. The whole point of innovation is that you’re trying new things to stay ahead of your competition. But it doesn’t do you any good to have a great idea if, by the time you’ve implemented it, your competitors have been using it for six months.
Make sure you have structures in place to move ideas along and into production. You need to have a team responsible for reviewing innovative ideas when they come across the table and deciding if and how to implement them. Once your team has decided the idea has merit, don’t delay taking the steps to put that idea into action.
Use Innovation Metrics
As with any goal, increasing innovation at your company needs to be handled in a SMART way. That is to say, your innovation goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. And the metrics you use to measure your innovation goals will have a huge impact on your success.
Spend some time thinking about why you want to see more innovation culture in your company and what you hope to gain from that. What will success look like for you in relation to your innovation goals? Then pick some specific aspects of that success that you can measure and use those for your innovation metrics.
Lead By Example
And, of course, as with any aspect of business, the best way to encourage strong innovation at your company is to lead by example. Your employees need to feel that they can pose out-there ideas without getting their necks stepped on. You can create that sort of culture by keeping an open mind.
When you’re talking with the managers under you, keep an open mind with ideas that they bring to the table. Suggest off-the-wall ideas when you have them yourself, and show that you aren’t afraid to have frank, open discussions where some spaghetti gets thrown at the wall. Your managers will take that culture back to their individual teams, and the culture of innovation will spread throughout your company.
Create A Culture Of Innovation At Your Company
Creating a culture of innovation in your company can be a tremendous way to stay ahead of your competition. But it requires a lot of leadership, an open mind, and a system for implementing those ideas. Make sure everyone at your company feels secure making suggestions, and engage every facet and every level of your business in this culture of creativity and growth.
If you’d like to learn more about trying new things, check out the rest of our site. We have content covering personal growth, success, financial growth, and more. Check out our leadership articles and start finding new ways to lead your company today.