7 Ways To Cultivate Innovation In the Workplace
Implementing organizational innovation can seem like an arduous process. In a fast paced work environment, expediency often takes precedence over restructuring.
But in a world that’s growing ever more competitive, innovation is a must. Finding a fresh approach can strengthen your workplace culture, ensure the quality of your products, and ultimately lead to greater profits. Innovation doesn’t happen overnight, but encouraging a steady flow of new ideas can become organizational practice.
It’s important to build a climate of innovation and growth from the ground up. Leaders can model a commitment to open dialogue and cross-pollination, increasing employee engagement and driving innovation.
1. Lead by Example
Leaders need to consciously cultivate an attitude of acceptance when it comes to new ideas. Rather than focusing on immediate outcomes and actionable processes, encourage curiosity by practicing it yourself. Rather than shooting down ideas that don’t immediately make sense, reward the effort that went into each proposal, and interrogate your own reactions.
Are you rejecting a proposal because it is truly impractical, or simply because it differs from your own vision? Creating a culture of non-judgement allows space for the best ideas to step forward. Reiterate your commitment to innovation by putting tangible practices in place, such as implementing an open door policy and building relationships with your employees.
2. Put Brainstorming on the Agenda
Innovation requires idea generation. But in the face of day to day work flows, it can be all too easy to let brainstorming fall to the end of the to do list time and again. Demonstrate your commitment to positive change as a workplace ethos by designating time for brainstorming in your regular meetings.
Consider organizing staff retreats or thought sessions to bounce around new ideas in a judgement free environment. Whatever your approach, make space for innovation by marking it on your calendar.
3. Track Ideas as They Arise
Have you ever wished there were a simpler way to harness the innovative ideas from everyone in your company? To track all the potential solutions percolating under the surface? The most successful companies harvest ideas from their employees and foster a collaborative ethos, driving employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall success.
Idea Management software such as Idea Drop allows leaders to pose challenges and equalizes the playing field, prioritizing quality of ideas over corporate hierarchy. Through a feedback system built into its platform, Idea Drop allows you to seamlessly track and aggregate the most promising solutions and to provide positive feedback in one integrated application.
4. Create a Culture of Open Minds
Idea generation is an open-ended process. While not all ideas will be actionable, it is important to actively encourage brainstorming and welcome input.
A bayt.com survey of innovation in the MENA workplace found that 78 percent of employees say that their organizations encourage new ideas.
Reward forward thinking through positive reinforcement. Open the door to innovation by allowing team members to become part of the conversation and collaboratively build on one another’s ideas. Incite excitement and fresh proposals by building transparency and fostering ongoing dialogue within your company. Positive feedback for ideas generation makes employees feel valued and heard, which will encourage them to invest more of their energy and best work towards the success of the company.
5. Embrace Diversity
Diversity drives innovation, according to numerous studies. Companies with hiring practices and workplace policies that promote diversity and encourage inclusion show results in higher profits and a higher average number of products annually, according to this Financial Management research.
6. Encourage Open dialogue
A common mistake is relying on core team members or identified key innovators to enact organizational change. Top down change can often engender resistance and create a climate of mistrust.
On the other hand, employees who feel as though they clearly understand the goals of the business and have an active part in shaping its practices are more likely to participate wholeheartedly, cultivating an innovative workplace climate.
7. Build Bridges (Peer to Peer Connections)
Strengthening connections and creating cross-dialogue between different specialists and departments serves two purposes that can drive innovation: it helps match different skill sets, so that the individuals whose strengths lie in visioning and brainstorming can partner with rationally minded individuals who can crunch the numbers and support implementation.
Fostering peer to peer connection also increases employee investment, since those who feel more valued and respected by their co-workers are more likely to confidently contribute to the betterment of their workplace and the business as a whole.
Whatever your approach, incorporating innovation into your best practices is an ongoing process. Building a workplace climate that fosters innovation pays off in enhanced employee engagement, and builds trust and communication between teams. Increased collaboration can lead to approaches and solutions beyond what you can imagine.