Business innovation is one of the single biggest corporate mysteries.
Innovation is something that every company, no matter the size or industry, knows they should be doing, but simply don’t.
There are plenty of companies implementing breakthrough ideas and innovations that come away successful, but those numbers are greatly overshadowed by the percentage of companies who fail to implement innovative change for the better.
So what are most CEO’s and business leaders doing wrong? And what can they do in the future if they decide to place strategic investments in innovation?
The first thing to know is that positively impacted change can only happen in the right environment. While encouraging employees to speak their mind about new ideas sounds like common sense, it is anything but common corporate practice.
There is no clear-cut prescription for turning a dull organization into a creative one, but here are a few actionable tips to help cultivate a corporate culture that is inherently bound by innovation.
- Business innovation can only come through invitation. So invite and encourage employees to come out with any and all new business-related ideas. It is important to allow people to be free with their ideas. If an employee is required to consult their boss on every step of the innovation process, employees will be quick to keep their ideas to themselves. You cannot micromanage an idea and force it to become a successful innovation.
- Even though there are two “I’s” in innovation doesn’t mean it’s a job for one person. True innovation relies on the knowledge and skill sets of different groups of individuals. Sure, an idea can be the product of a single person, but it’s the trust, brainstorming, and collaborative efforts from multiple groups that help bring innovation to reality.
- Make speed a priority. Make it mandatory for employees with ideas to test those ideas as soon as possible. Even if the idea ends up failing, the faster people know that an idea is a failure, the faster they can refine their approach or conjure up a new idea altogether. If someone has an idea, but they wait, wait and wait for the perfect time to put their ideas into action, it will have lost most of its steam and creative flow by the time it is ready to move forward.
- Make sure employees understand there is a lesson to be learned from each idea that fails. These lessons are just as important to successfully innovating. By being vocal, open and positive about failed ideas, a corporate leader helps foster the idea that this is a safe place for all employees to innovate and step outside their comfort zone.
- It is impossible to project manage one’s way to successful innovation. Successful innovation is not something that can be brought to life through project resources, budgets and timelines. Approaching corporate innovation the same way a CEO manages a Q4 earnings deadline is a definite way to ensure that any investment in innovation is completely wasted. Turn your company’s innovation strategy from one that seeks to solve one specific problem to a corporate layout that invites bold new ideas. Then you will be on your way to churning out a few game-changing business innovations.