Guest Post by James Pointon
Innovation is something that is absolutely necessary for continued success. Even if you are at the top of your field, resting on your laurels and sticking with the same old routines will only succeed in leaving you behind at the bottom of the pack. But it’s not easy to innovate, and it requires a lot of inspiration. Here’s how to create a culture of innovation in your company and let your employees come up with new ideas.
Encourage and Reward Innovation
The first thing that you need to do is make sure that everyone is able to bring forth new ideas, and that they feel comfortable to do so. How can you make this happen? First, make it clear at every opportunity that you want to hear some new ways your product or service could evolve. Second, offer rewards for those ideas which really make the grade. You could give a bonus to the employee who thought of it, or offer them tickets to an event they would love. You could even give them an extra day of holiday or something similar which will really make their day. When they know they will be rewarded for speaking up, more people will be encouraged to do so.
Let Everyone Try
While you may have whole departments dedicated to coming up with new ideas, they aren’t always going to have the freshest thoughts. They can only see things from one perspective, but there are plenty of ways to look like a problem. So why not ask everyone – from the lowest member of staff in the food chain right the way up to the top? Have a day when everyone is encouraged to bring in a new idea for making things work better. You can have an online submission system if you want to be sure no one will feel too shy. Of course, a reward for the best idea is best, and you can even have an awards ceremony to choose the winner.
Take Some Time
Sitting at a desk in an office isn’t always the best place to get some real thought in. Innovation comes from serious inspiration, and you can’t get that in a boring environment. Allow your best thinkers a day or two off during the year to go seek out inspiration in the places that speak to them the most. Whether they like driving around all day, or sitting by a lake, or going to a remote cabin, allow them the chance to do that. See what they come back with after a day dedicated to innovation.
Every week, get your team together and ask them to share one thing that they have done for the first time recently. This could be anything from skydiving to cooking a new dish. It doesn’t have to be hugely exciting, but you should heap praise on them if it is. Rewarding and encouraging risk-taking helps them to open their minds up to the possibility of doing so at work. Innovation is all about taking a big leap and seeing where you land, and those who don’t feel like taking risks will never be able to create true innovation. Remember, this is all about creating the right culture and environment for innovation to blossom.
It’s important to tackle three big issues to ensure that your employees help you to innovate: that they don’t have time or space to think, that they’re too shy to speak up, and that they don’t see their ideas going forwards. Tackle those three, and you will be unstoppable.
James Pointon is a passionate blogger and customer consultant at OpenAgent – experts in the field of real estate. James believes that no company can thrive and develop without the constant drive toward self-improvement amongst its employees. Privately, a great fan of technology.