If you bring up the term “innovation,” it would come as no surprise that the first thing that crosses the mind of business leaders will be Tesla, 3M, KIA, and GE. Unfortunately, in contrast to these innovation giants, constantly driving the bleeding edge through considerable R&D investments, it may seem like innovation is beyond your reach.
Nonetheless, regardless of the size and business domain, a culture of innovation is imperative to succeed in this constantly evolving business landscape. Today, all the more so, we can witness the growing demand for innovation – digital disruption and technological advancements are on the rise.
Industry rivals are continually on their heels. National and international events influence the way businesses function. As the famous adage goes, “The only constant in life is Change.” What worked in your favor past year might not yield the same results.
It’s relevant to note that innovation is not only a nice-to-have option for organizations. Instead, it’s indispensable if you hope to stay ahead of the curve in this fiercely competitive and digitized world. However, a culture of innovation doesn’t happen overnight. It only happens when business leaders cultivate an environment where employees feel encouraged to challenge the status quo and dialogues aren’t frowned upon by the top management.
Since culture is an abstract word, it might be hard to figure out where to begin. That’s why we have rounded up some exciting ways to embed an innovative culture in your business:
Organizations should invest time and endeavors and make their employees learn sought-after skills to tackle challenges that may crop up in the innovation path. Besides, employees themselves should also consider increasing their educational credentials as business schools report excellent career outcomes of MBA. An MBA degree imparts comprehensive knowledge about various business functions and helps individuals unveil innovative techniques, products, and services.
Unfortunately, professionals constantly dwell on when to get an MBA to make a breakthrough in their careers. But truthfully, there couldn’t be a better time to pursue an MBA than in today’s competitive job market. Although your interests might change as you earn your MBA, the degree, for sure, can turn out to be a recipe for professional success.
Hire the right people
Fostering a culture of innovation without the right people is beyond the bounds of possibility. Previously, research and development (R&D) departments hired just a single scientist to execute a particular project. However, in today’s fast-paced digital realm, this approach no longer cracks it.
You’ll have to hire professionals who align with your organizational values and understand the vision. However, individuals with critical thinking and problem-solving skills are more likely to make your organization hit new benchmarks.
Therefore, R&D leaders should recruit individuals who can tackle multiple projects, strive for improvements, and take the idea – the light bulb above the head – to its final stage.
Let’s admit it – creative ideas can come up from any person, irrespective of their rank in the pecking order. Given this, it’s paramount to establish a flat organizational hierarchy. That way, innovative employees can circumvent hindrances and access decision-makers.
Nonetheless, one of the main challenges employees face when voicing out their ideas is the fear of rejection and dismissal. And this, in turn, leads to mental blocks, and employees fail to deliver the desired results.
Therefore, boost your employees’ confidence by giving them a sense of ownership. Assure and make them understand that failure is part and parcel of the path of innovation. This way, they can provide exceptional performance.
Recognizing success and offering generous rewards are vital to catalyze innovative culture. Unfortunately, most organizations stop at this point. While annual innovation awards are an excellent option for the short-term, they aren’t enough to catapult success over the long haul.
Suppose you wish to spread an innovation-driven culture across all corners of your organization. In that case, it’s crucial to identify success and celebrate them, no matter how significant or small they are. Praise the ones who step out of their comfort zones, put themselves forward for volunteer work, and are risk-takers.
Or better yet, come up with an innovation incentive program. The incentives may include allotting additional time to employees for their passion projects or offering promotions to innovation evangelists. You can also verbally laud and appreciate the efforts of innovators during a team meeting.
Support the unreasonable
Some, if not many, organizations value and appreciate non-traditional thinking and reassure their employees there’s no such thing as a bad or good idea. And this drives individuals to get off the beaten path and think laterally.
However, you can go a bit extra mile and encourage truly unrealistic ideas to unearth potential challenges and threats. For instance, if an individual comes up with a creative idea, ask questions beyond what seems reasonable.
The questions may leave the employee puzzled at first. However, they will prompt them to think about the ideas and possibilities they wouldn’t have considered otherwise. And since life is full of uncertainties, you never know which idea can turn out to be a huge success.
Build a creative workspace
The ambiance of the workplace is of critical importance when cultivating a culture of innovation. An office space specifically designed to enhance creativity can contribute substantially to inspiring your team members.
Therefore, try to create a physical office space that encompasses various innovation labs and provides access to the right technologies. And while you are at it, make the working environment collaborative and social.
For instance, build a separate area for informal group brainstorming and essential details swaps. And don’t forget to position individual workspaces with group ones since innovative culture requires a shared mind.
The culture of every organization is intrinsically distinct. So, when you pour in the efforts for fostering an innovative culture, you are nurturing a unique system. Which means you can’t just rubber-stamp any culture. Instead, you need to take on a thoughtful and reflective approach.
Try to explore and develop the aspects that align well with your organization’s objectives and values. And in every case, ensure to make it rewarding for the employees whose actions and dynamics impact the very innovative culture you wish to nurture.
Remember, creative employees who build meaningful value for themselves and their leaders are often at the forefront when the storm comes nearer. Therefore, establish a conducive environment brimming with such innovators, and perhaps, for all you know, you might miss the storm entirely.