Innovation is all around us with new business technologies and exciting start-up business models. We are constantly moving into new terrain and companies are creating support systems through technology and human resources to implement and drive this innovation process.
In today’s business landscape, the changing pace of business workplace systems and procedures require a level of personal resilience and flexibility in order to be adaptable to change. Companies tend not to handle change well where their need for innovative ideas or inventions are harder to conceive if the company culture does not support this. Having a successful business model has meant relying on structures, standards and processes that are designed to achieve peak performance. Relying on and adhering to this framework often inadvertently stifles innovation or even kills it.
Whether it is a conscious decision or not, good ideas or new inventions sometimes do not get off the ground. This is observed as a common occurrence where innovation is thought to be a good idea, but in practice, doesn’t seem to gain momentum. Companies tend to focus on the here and now rather than investing time and resources into longer term goals that may bring innovation excellence. Therefore, leadership in an organisation must have the skills to drive change and allow for innovative thinking that can foster business growth. Generally, they are visionary people and believe and trust their colleagues, allowing them to pursue their own path to achievement. These people do not control everything and allow for their staff to act within their own delegation of authority. These are the leaders who put people at the heart of their organisations where growth and nurturing of talent and skills also take place. Without such leaders, any company initiatives and programs to generate ideas will not meet expectations.
Embracing innovation essentially means creating a space for creativity and an environment in which imaginative solutions can be brought forward – where creative ideas are encouraged, and your people feel valued. Therefore, it is essential to hire talent that can bring these creative skills to the table as a first step in fostering and creating a culturally innovation workplace.
STRATEGIES THAT SUPPORT INNOVATION
Flexibility A relaxed and flexible work environment increases your team’s productivity by letting ideas flow. Encourage an atmosphere where staff feel leaders are approachable and on equal standing. Look at flexibility in terms of work life balance and give your people options to work from home or not be restricted to a tradition 9-5 workday. Embrace your employees’ natural work rhythm and self-accountability.
Culture Look for team members who understand your vision and align with your culture. Team members need to be on the same page and aligned to the concept of ‘one vision’. Leaders need to embrace and encourage different perspectives of thought and practice in order to stay ahead of the pack. Recruiting personnel that are passionate and dedicated and care about their impact in a business are those that you want to have on board in your organisation. They are the ones who will tell your company story and believe in its services or products and are willing to make a difference not only to their work peers, but to the client base as well. It is also far more pleasant to work alongside interesting, friendly and driven people who are all working towards the same goals.
Diversity Put together a team with different backgrounds, passions, and capabilities. Having a group with a diverse set of ideas and problem-solving approaches, helps push your product or service forward. Embrace and celebrate your team members’ individuality, outside of the box ideas and any problem-solving approaches they have that help drive innovation.
Allocate Time Daily work commitments like emails, phone calls and meetings take up a lot of time and can wreak havoc on one’s concentration. There are many distractions or interruptions that do not allow creative flows. Setting an amount of time in which your team works to finish a project, can be the solution. Start-ups develop quickly in the early stages because everyday interruptions are at a minimum. When your company has started to grow into individual teams, having them work offsite and possibly on a ‘retreat’ is a great way to centre, focus and take up a project from start to finish.
Intrapreneurship Rather than having your people pitch ideas to others and create their own enterprises, you can encourage intrapreneurship within your organisation. Establish where your employees can go with their ideas. A place where your people can pitch to decision makers at your company, gain support and try out new ideas – a new take on the old R&D environment.
Reward Leaders of innovative companies can go beyond just giving their employees time to experiment. They should also reward innovative habits. Nothing kills creativity faster than the fear of failure, so as much as you should celebrate the success of any experimentation, you should also encourage the learning that comes out of any ‘failure’.
Employee Forum Along with encouraging your team to experiment, encourage them to do their own research as well. Let your employees’ personal interests and passions do the leading as they look into new technologies, reading articles and writing reports for your company. Create a unique forum where they can present their research, an example of this is Google Cafés. Whether it’s a weekly all-staff meeting or a company bulletin, foster a space where employees can meet across teams to discuss and present their research, experimentation or intrapreneurial ideas.
Outside the Box There’s no better way to get your employees thinking outside the box than to assign them new and exciting projects outside the scope of their daily activities. While some employees may initially react with a fear of failure, ultimately they will be engaged by the chance to try something new in a supportive work environment.
There are many ways that you can start to bring innovation to your company and major change doesn’t happen all at once. Start small, with any one of the above ideas and slowly layer in more until your company is a pinnacle of creativity and innovation.