Fostering an innovative environment in your organization can be key to growing your business and developing opportunities in ways you have not yet even considered. An Accenture study found that over 90% of executives believe that innovation is central to the long term success of their business strategy. Although (benefits include employee satisfaction, new business streams and digital transformation), how can managers organize their teams around innovation, without sacrificing important day to day company activity? Here are six critical keys for creating a culture of innovation that will complement your company’s DNA and engage the inner genius of your employees.
1. Open Communication Between All Company Levels
Organizing your company around open communication works wonders. A framework in which every employee feels that his or her voice is valued is key to getting your staff involved. Open up lines of communication between employees and top management by optimizing corporate communication channels, holding company wide events/brainstorming sessions, or by allowing employees to submit ideas digitally through an employee submission box. Perhaps teams or middle management can begin weekly meetings with a brainstorming session, where a prize is presented for the best new idea in the company. Encouraging open innovation will keep all employees involved and support employees in sharing their best ideas.
2. Create a Climate of Ideas
Examples of innovation in business always stem from a culture in which participants feel their ideas are valued. Make it ok to brainstorm, to offer a germ of an idea and to make mistakes. Without the fear of failure, your employees will be free to come up with something really fresh and new. Encourage executives and managers to utilize crowdsourcing as a part of their toolbox for employee engagement.
The first step in getting people to innovate is to create a climate in your companies where all ideas – the good, the bad and the ugly – are celebrated. This attitude will cultivate new ideas and will also foster a can-do, innovative attitude of continuous improvement. Anita McGahan, in the article « 5 Top Gurus Talk Innovation Principles and Practices » says clearly: « A failed experiment is a success when it reveals underlying market demand for a new product or when it shows the true costs of a new process. An experiment is a true failure when nothing is learned. »
3. Project Promotion
In my experience helping leading organizations across the globe to overcome their innovation challenges, end-user engagement is often a deciding factor. Some project managers will take a very hands-off approach, expecting the initiative to achieve instant success as soon as a solution is implemented. This can sometimes work, but the companies who generate the strongest results are those who take a serious approach to marketing the project internally.
For example, Multinational sporting goods manufacturer Amer Sports, recently achieved a fantastic engagement rate of 50% using Qmarkets’ Q-max idea management platform, and this can be directly attributed to the promotion of their project internally. They held company-wide events to get people onboard, distributed newsletters and posters to raise awareness, and even created specialized innovative “idea” corners in their offices where employees could go to collaborate and submit ideas at any time. However you choose to engage your audience, this is a foundation which needs to be laid down when it comes to creating a culture of innovation.
4. Reward Innovation – Not Success
Develop an innovation incentive program. Make the act of creativity itself the one that is lauded and rewarded in your company. Let your employees know that when they think out of the box you are listening and appreciating. Institute an « Innovator of the Month » award, and occasionally choose an employee for their level of activity/application rather than their results. Organize contests for “Best New Idea” that employees come up with in their free time, and remind them that you appreciate their contribution to the process, no matter how big or small.
5. Build a Diverse Team
Although you ideally will look to hire employees who share the passion and vision of your company culture, bringing in individuals with a diverse set of problem solving skills can catapult your process. Bring professionals with diverse skill-sets and proficiencies together in order to create an environment that breaks traditional boundaries and can offer new solutions and perspectives
6. Set Objectives and Track Progress
One of the most critical elements of business innovation management is setting clear goals. Brainstorming in a vacuum can end up leading nowhere, and experiments without boundaries can indeed be a drain of resources.
Yes, you should let your people run wild with ideas, but at the same time, provide a clear structure. Your team came up with an idea for disruptive innovation? Great! Create a framework in which you can track progress and test your hypotheses, so you don’t find yourself on costly tangents that don’t meet market requirements. Although it may feel counterintuitive, providing structure enables real creativity and innovation.
Creating a culture of innovation in your organization takes intention and planning, but all of the above tips can be both supported and implemented by one cutting-edge software provider – Qmarkets. Qmarkets’ Q-360 suite of collective intelligence software helps organizations across the globe overcome key strategic challenges, from innovation management and process improvement, to technology scouting and hackathons. Recently recognized as a leader by IT analysts Forrester and Gartner, Qmarkets can drive results for your organization no matter what stage you are at.
To discover how Qmarkets’ can assist you with creating an innovation culture that will amplify ROI, don’t hesitate to organize a free demo with us today!