A culture of innovation can be the difference between business success and failure in today’s marketplace. According to a 2015 Forbes article, one of the greatest failures cited for US businesses was failure to innovate. In a world that demands that we do it faster, cheaper, better, smarter, and with a more personal touch and focus on the customer, the article says it best: failure to innovate is signing a death warrant for your company.
Building a culture of innovation might just sound like the latest buzzword (and the term is certainly everywhere, that’s for sure,) but it just makes for smart business: the idea of creating connection and passionate idea generation through your most powerful asset — your employees — is the path to the next great evolution of your company. There are plenty of ways to go about building one, but here are a few examples you might want to follow:
Smash your hierarchy – While management structure exists for the successful operation of your company, it shouldn’t stand in the way of idea generation. CEOs and top management generating conversations with everyone at every level means all ideas can be heard regardless of where they sit on your org chart. The Next Big Thing can come from the mailroom or your interns. Don’t miss out on it.
Rethink meetings – The rise of the gig economy and Millennials has ostensibly challenged “face time” and staff meetings. Not everything has to be done face to face, using Skype, messaging, or email can often accomplish the same outcomes as meeting in person, so ask yourself what’s the most effective way to interact. Group chat sessions, virtual meetings, cloud technology, and documents with version control can accomplish so much more than hours of meetings that result in more meetings. They also mean ideas can be generated and shared when people feel fresh, not just when it’s mandated by their calendars.
Don’t overwork your people: Contrary to popular belief, productivity declines the longer you work. The US is notorious for putting a focus on outrageous hours with demands to be virtually, constantly connected. Save the late hours for the times when it’s truly necessary. Studies have shown work-life balance and proper rest are the sweet mixture for peak productivity and idea generation. The concept of “sprints” in startups times where everyone works without stopping, have been used to great success. Focus on getting stuff done, not on how busy you are.
Embrace diversity: Creating a successful culture means top talent that brings something new to the table. That translates to a diversity of ideas, which could mean a solution you would never have thought of on your own. Don’t be afraid to bring fresh insight to the table.
Celebrate your efforts: Nothing succeeds like people who aren’t afraid to fail. Give that big crazy idea a try if it sounds good. If it works out, celebrate it. If it doesn’t, celebrate that, too. You’ll only get more ideas, and the next suggestion could be “the one.”
Organizations large and small can benefit from thinking outside the confines of their old ideas when it comes to embracing a culture of innovation. It could be the difference between what you have now and everything you’ve ever wanted and more. What do you have to lose, except that idea that could transform your entire corporation? Give it a try!