Companies that are innovative perform better. Fact.
In 2014, Google, the world’s most valuable company (it actually knocked Apple off the top spot earlier this year), actually put in formal rules requiring every employee to dedicate one day a week to side projects. A lot of the thinking behind this was that encouraging people to be creative would reinforce its deeply innovative culture.
Of course, the majority of organisations cannot do this, but I am sure that organisations that allow employees to set aside a couple of hours outside of the usual work environment – to come up with ideas to do things better/differently/faster/cheaper - will benefit. We’ve done a bit of research and looked at proven tactics - within the reach of all organisations – that really do foster innovation in the workplace.
There are undoubtedly some brilliant ideas in the heads of your staff – and not just your direct reports. Think of ways to crowdsource creative ideas from outside of your immediate environment… of course your colleagues across the business, but why not your clients and suppliers? They are close to your businesses and likely untapped valuable resources. Last but not least, don’t forget to engage the rest of the business – don’t leave people behind.
Don’t punish failure
Mark Zuckerberg openly encourages Facebook employees to “make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.” Innovation by its very nature means trying out new things; doing things differently. Clearly, this can be risky. We all have high performance expectations, but if you encourage people to be creative and it doesn’t work out, then you should not punish them. Instead, learn from failures and share these learnings. Celebrate effort and best practice. After all, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always get…
Start small, but aim high
You don’t have to dive in at the deep end. Start with small innovations and ideas and things that are easier to implement. Introduce smaller, incremental changes and move towards transformational innovation over time. Over time, confidence will grow and you will feel able to introduce bigger and more ambitious initiatives.
Last but not least, the most valuable companies have aimed high as far as innovation is concerned, so look at what they have done! There will likely be lots of case studies that are applicable to your business!