Continuous innovation— it’s a tall order. Executives have heard this phrase or some variation of it with increasing frequency over the past few years. Rate of innovation has increased, enabled by widespread adoption of digitization. In fact, according to the IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation, 89% of enterprises have plans to adopt or have already adopted a digital-first business strategy, lending an advantage for those businesses over competitors in the realm of innovation. Digitization spurs companies to create PoCs (proof of concepts) and iterate more rapidly than ever. So, if your organization falls under the majority that have already solidified a digital-first strategy, how can you further accelerate innovation and foster creativity to evolve your organization? Focus on the following 4 tips:
Tip 1: Shift toward an open, creative culture
Unbeknownst to themselves, many companies cause their own innovative stagnation. They let creativity suffer unintentionally as an externality of company culture. Without an open, creative culture that embraces failure, innovation is less likely.
In order to advance this ideology, a company culture change is necessary. Achieving a culture shift is tricky, however it’s important to acknowledge that failure is necessary for growth — and communicating this clearly to employees will nurture innovation. Employees will feel open to exploring new ideas that they otherwise might have avoided for fear of ridicule. To measure success in this initiative and better understand the direction that organization culture needs to move towards, take stock of company culture in its present state. Solicit feedback from employees and ensure that whatever your chosen vehicle, feedback is anonymous to encourage honesty. Another tip to ensure feedback? Offer an incentive! If a department reaches a 75% feedback participation rate, treat them to a catered lunch or an early Friday departure. After establishing a baseline, you can begin constructing a culture that celebrates failure and focuses on company innovation.
Tip 2: Dedicate time for innovation in schedule
Where innovation is concerned, you can’t count on serendipity. Similar to setting aside time to refine strategy or define department metrics, innovation takes work and time. Carve out time in your weekly schedule to brainstorm and nurture ideas. The same goes for employees. Encourage staff members to block out half an hour or an hour each week to get creative and foster any ideas for the company they may have. Follow through and recognize employee efforts when this time yields feasible results. This will help instill an element of intrapreneurship in your newfound innovative company culture. You never know where the next inventive approach will stem from.
Tip 3: Set a strong example: innovation could be process, product, service, or line of thought
Follow your own advice and lead by example. Challenge current company processes — is there a better workflow? Encourage employees to do the same. Employees offer a different perspective on company workflows as they deal with internal tasks daily while you may not. This frequently lends employees a greater depth of understanding of specific job role needs than someone in a management position. While expense reporting may seem to run smoothly from a management perspective, those actually running the report might notice redundancies in the report and can offer a more efficient alternative. Refining a few workflow tasks may seem like a small undertaking, but when added up across the company saves time and increases productivity.
Tip 4: Invest in development events for yourself and employees — you never know what could spark the next business idea
Finally, offer development workshops for all levels of management and employees alike. Topic options could include:
- Problem solving- showcasing different methods to approaching a problem.
- Creativity in the workplace- encouraging employees to take a more creative approach to completing day to day tasks.
- A data empowerment session- giving employees the tools and skills to analyze company data and uncover potential improvements.
Workshops foster critical thinking, inspire questioning of current methods, and help avoid ruts in workflow. This encourages everyone in the organization to examine their job roles from a new perspective and ask themselves if there is a better method, product, or service the company could offer.
A great place to start is with an examination of company data strategy. Empowering employees with company data lets everyone explore connections and potentially uncover better processes. If you need some extra direction in this arena, contact us, and an expert from our team will provide a free data strategy consultation.