How to Easily Facilitate Innovative Thinking in Your CompanyAUTHOR: Noah Rue
Innovation is a term that is constantly bandied about these days. In fact, 84% of executives are in agreement that the ability to innovate isn’t just good, it’s crucial for their business. And yet, a mere 6% of said leaders are actually happy with the levels of innovation that they see in their organization.
If you, your team, or even your company as a whole struggles with innovation, you most certainly are not alone. If you’re feeling the need to improve your innovation, here are a few tips and suggestions to help you do so in a natural, minimally disruptive manner.
What Is Innovation?
Before breaking down how to increase innovation, it’s helpful to define it. This isn’t needed because the word is a unique or uncommon term. Quite the opposite, actually. The idea of “being innovative” is something that modern business culture is obsessed with.
That said, it’s important to consider what innovation truly means if you want to address it in your company. This can help separate the wheat from the chaff as you prepare to find the best ways to boost creativity and collaboration in your organization.
For starters, at its very basic, the word innovation implies that something is new or novel. This can refer to a method of doing something, a gadget, or even an intangible idea.
In business, innovation tends to take on several different forms. The CEO of Catalyzing Innovation, Michelle Greenwald, lists four specific ways that innovation typically manifests in the workplace:
- Through descriptions: This comes from challenging conventional notions of how to do things.
- Via word choices: This includes “fresh,” “new,” “useful,” and other such verbiage.
- By reacting: A reaction or response, such as “That’s a great idea!” can help highlight innovation.
- In strategic criteria: This could be meeting unfulfilled customer needs, finding purposeful points of difference in a product, and so on.
While innovation is always linked to creativity, it isn’t exclusively used in one way. It can come through word, thought, and deed.
The Benefits of Innovation
While it can show up in many ways, the benefits of innovation are often the same:
- Innovation can help increase employee engagement by inviting everyone into the creative process.
- Innovation can help cut costs by identifying where your organization is operating inefficiently.
- Innovation can increase revenue through finding better products, sales methods, uses for technology, and so on.
- Innovation leads to more novel and unique selling points to help your products and services stand out from the competition.
By tapping into innovation, you open your enterprise up to a host of powerful benefits.
Easy Ways to Facilitate Innovation
Of course, the question that still haunts so many leaders is how to get that spark of innovation going. How can you increase the creative and collaborative efforts of your team to a satisfactory level? Here are a few suggestions for ways to do so with minimal effort or investment.
Communication is ground zero for innovation. If your team can’t communicate, it’s difficult to collaborate. This is especially true in the remote-heavy world caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Proper communication can be achieved in a few different ways:
- Set your team up with the right tools, such as shared files, an online whiteboard, and a quality workflow platform that suites your needs.
- Make sure to set clear standards for what applications (Zoom, Slack, email, etc.) everyone should use to ensure that all communications are received on time.
- Go beyond setting the stage and teaching the rules by actually demonstrating quality communication by example.
If your team is intimately connected throughout a project, they will be able to foster and develop creative ideas together. This can lead to better, more synergistic results.
Cultivate Company Culture
An indirect yet powerful way to increase your staff’s creativity and collaboration is by focusing on innovation as a key part of your company’s culture. In other words, innovation shouldn’t just be a goal or a temporary measure.
It should take center stage in everything that you do. It should be a clear attribute of your brand. It should show up in your marketing material. It should be a motivating factor when you hire new employees.
There are many ways to permeate your existing organization with innovation, such as:
- Encouraging your staff to practice mindfulness and being focused on the present.
- Fostering a work environment that is free from distractions and discourages multitasking.
- Cultivating proper time management, such as teaching others to use the time management matrix.
All of these will quietly and organically increase the innovative nature of your workforce. The ability to be present, focused, and disciplined can pave the way for new ideas to flourish.
Diversify Your Workforce
Another simple way to easily facilitate innovation is to diversify your workforce. For instance, less than a third of the current computing workforce consists of ethnic minorities and women. This means whenever IT or technical talent is called on, it will likely have a very predictable cultural slant to its creativity.
By increasing the diversity of your workforce in specific areas you open yourself up to more perspectives. As individuals with varying backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and views enter your organization, it can help you create well-rounded ideas and solutions.
Automate When You Can
Finally, whenever possible, take unnecessary or mundane tasks off of your team’s plate. The best way to do this is by using technology.
Automating your business processes can dramatically boost your productivity and efficiency. As a bonus — and something particularly important where innovation is concerned — automating boring, repetitive, and time-consuming activities frees up employees and leaders alike to focus on the very human task of creating.
Fostering Innovation for a Brighter Future
Business cycles are quickly speeding up. Consumer behaviors, interests, and sentiments are always changing at a breakneck pace. Technology is an ever-evolving industry. If you want your company to keep up with the changes, you must encourage innovation at every level of your organization.
Fortunately, as the above recommendations bear testament to, this doesn’t have to be a complex or difficult task. On the contrary, all it takes is a little initiative on the part of individuals to take a business from stagnant to stimulated in a very short time.