When entrepreneurs talk about how to increase innovation, often the conversation turns to the development of new products and services. While that is certainly one aspect of being a more innovative company, innovation also means finding new ways to be productive and efficient with the resources you have at your disposal. Research also shows that the most successful businesses are those that are able to effectively merge speed and quality. And the trait most commonly associated with this magic combination is innovation.
Unfortunately, innovation is also commonly confused with creativity. Creativity can help increase innovation, but the true definition of innovation is a new idea, method, or device. An innovation solves a problem and makes an improvement. With that in mind, it is possible to increase innovation within your company and uncover the methods and ideas that will improve your chances of success. Implement some of the following ideas to increase innovation in your business. Then see how your company can become more innovative than the competition.
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1. Create Opportunities for Innovation
Companies often stagnate because team members don’t feel as if they have a voice. Or they don’t think they have a chance to try out new ideas or innovative ways of doing things. One of the most destructive sentences to any enterprise is, “We’ve always done it this way.” And when your people are afraid to rock the boat, innovation is going to suffer.
Overcome this tendency by creating opportunities for your teams to explore new perspectives and ideas. It might be as simple as including time in staff meetings to bounce around new ideas. Or it might even be disruptive. For example, you could implement job swaps, in which people shift responsibilities on a short- or long-term basis.
Because new perspectives and experiences can drive an increase in innovation, invest in your employees as well by fostering their development. This might mean sending them to seminars or retreats. Or you could support them in earning an online MBA. Make the expectation of innovation a part of your culture. Then give your employees the tools they need to succeed.
2. Implementing “Silent” Days
Imagine a day without any meetings, in which your co-workers agree not to email or message each other or engage in any kind of chit-chat. You’d probably be extra productive, no?
Companies that have tried implementing “silent days” once or twice a week have seen productivity increase by 60-90 percent. Even better, by having uninterrupted time to work, employees have more time to experiment and come up with better, more efficient ways to do things. They aren’t stuck in a rush and thus have more time to think.
Try implementing a silent day once a week. Or just experiment with a silent afternoon to start, and see how innovation improves.
3. Create a Diverse Team
Different perspectives bring different ideas. All too often, companies hire people with similar skills and backgrounds. Or they create such a strong a corporate culture that employees tend to engage in “group think” and never really come up with anything truly innovative. Make a point of hiring people from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, create cross-functional teams that bring different perspectives and influence to projects.
4. Develop a Process for Implementing New Ideas
Supporting innovation doesn’t mean trying every new idea just to see what sticks. That’s a waste of time and resources. At the same time, employees should be confident that their ideas will be considered and implemented quickly if they are workable.
Develop a process in which employees can submit their ideas for consideration and quickly receive acknowledgement and feedback.
You also need a process for implementing new ideas. Some employers ask employees to provide suggestions for implementation as part of the innovation process. These employers also have a plan for rolling it out.
However you decide to go about implementing new ideas, the process needs to be transparent and as expeditious as possible.
5. Reward and Motivate Employees
Reward and motivation is a key aspect of employee retention and maintaining productive and happy teams. It’s no different when you are trying to support innovation. Applaud the efforts of your team to uncover new ideas.
Moreover, recognize the achievements of employees who come up with ideas that move the organization toward its goals. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for their hard work. Therefore, don’t forget to include that in your efforts to support innovation.
Increase Innovation in Your Company by Giving It Space to Thrive
Becoming a more innovative business will not happen overnight. However, when you create an environment that supports and rewards new ideas, it will become a part of your company culture. And your business will reap the rewards.