In many ways, innovation is the engine that drives growth for any company. An innovative workforce enables companies to grow from within, usually because employees are best-placed to understand product development, business operations, and demands from the company’s customer base.
Over the years, innovation and customer experience have become intertwined business practices within successful organizations. Customers are increasingly basing their buying choices on innovation, as this survey by Lab42 found out in 2015. In the survey, over 84% of respondents said that innovation was a key element when making a buying decision from a particular company.
However, many organizations struggle to convert the innovation concept into practice, especially within modern business environments. Many companies go out of their way to instill the spirit of innovation via ambitious plans, with some even offering cash rewards to innovative staff members. A few months later, the excitement dies down, and everything goes back to normal.
There is no universal formula that works for all companies looking to be innovative. However, the following strategies work for most organizations across multiple industries looking to make innovation a part of the workforce culture.
1. Use experimentation to find the sweet spot
Anyone of sound mind can come up with an innovative idea. However, without adequate testing, failure is usually the most common outcome, especially during the implementation stage. Implementation of innovative ideas can fail because of unknown variables and technical failures – most of which can be identified during testing.
When an employee comes up with an innovative idea, it’s always best to test it out first within a small-scale setup before integrating it into the daily operations of the company. This will help to encourage a sustainable culture of innovation where ideas don’t just die before they become reality.
2. Embrace technology
From transforming schools and education systems to overhauling the manufacturing sector, technology has been at the forefront of many of the innovations we’ve seen over the past decade. Empowering your employees with the necessary tech tools and information can help create a tech-savvy workforce with an innovative mindset. Companies can do this by investing in technological platforms that make the ideation process easier.
Companies should also invest in internal training programs, e-learning platforms, and other knowledge exchange platforms to help nurture an innovative mindset in the workplace.
3. Put people with innovative mindsets in leadership positions
Many companies with a robust organizational structure often have employees working under a well-defined system where everyone knows who to report to. This helps keep business processes moving smoothly. However, employees with innovative ideas can have a difficult time getting their ideas through middle management. Here, managers are usually focused on the company’s core objectives and might not be open to trying out new ideas. Such setbacks can slowly suck out the innovative juice from innovative employees.
Companies can circumvent this problem by getting someone who is either senior or at the middle management level to specifically deal with innovative ideas from employees. They can help such employees to test their innovative ideas and present the most promising ones to top management for possible implementation. This way, employees always know they have someone to help them out with their light bulb moments.
4. Provide incentives
Everyone loves to be rewarded for a job well done, whether it’s monetary or otherwise. An incentive program doesn’t have to mean big bonuses or sums of money, but any effort you make towards rewarding innovative ideas will go a long way in establishing a culture of innovation. Rewards can be anything from freebies, promotions, better working hours, a fully-paid vacation holiday, or even an opportunity to implement their idea as project head.
Innovation incentive schemes are a good way of motivating employees to become more creative. This way, the culture of innovation can be seamlessly integrated into a fun and productive environment.
Every company needs an element of innovative to help drive growth and enable the company to stay competitive. Innovation drives every element of the value chain for modern businesses – from product design to customer experience. With a strong culture of innovation within the company, it becomes easier to develop new products, services, and any supportive infrastructure to support the growth of modern businesses.