More and more companies, even the most traditional ones, are embracing the culture of innovation in the workplace. The shift from the conventional and stiff work culture to one that is innovative can be challenging but not impossible.
Here are some ways to build a culture of innovation in your organization.
When people hear the word “innovation,” many think of high-end, cutting-edge, and expensive technologies like 3D printers. Innovation can mean different things to different people across various industries.
Before you build a culture of innovation within an organization, the most important step is to define it first. Simply put, innovation can be a new idea, a new product, or a new method.
Next, you should determine what kind of innovation you want your team members to come up with. For instance, if you’re in the marketing business, innovation can come in the form of a new metric system or an untapped marketing platform. It can even refer to a potentially new niche market that can drive your brand to new heights.
Now that you’ve defined what it is and what kind of innovation you want to develop yearly, it is important that you communicate this to your organization. This is where an Innovation Team comes in.
Establish an “Innovation Team.”
Every innovation starts with an idea, where every idea must be tested and fine-tuned. Eventually, it must be incorporated into the organization’s daily operations to promote better team performance.
Establishing a particular group to manage the collection, testing, and implementation of these ideas will ensure that these concepts will transform into innovations.
Allocate a substantial support and budget for innovation.
I think one of the top reasons some people are afraid of innovation is because they think of it as an additional cost. Well, innovations do come with huge expenses, but they also come with greater rewards.
A past CEB survey found that in 2014, approximately 33% of the IT budget was allocated for “innovation and business opportunity.” This trend is expected to increase as more companies understand the need to innovate to get ahead of the competition.
Some innovations can be real game changers, not just in the organization but even in the entire industry. Allocating a specific budget and a strong support system for innovations will, in turn, create more innovators in the workplace.
Nurturing the powers of millennials.
Millennials are currently dominating the workplace while post-Millennials or iGeners will soon join the workforce. With the introduction of this new demographic, business leaders should adapt to the evolving dynamics so they can nurture the younger generations’ innate innovation culture.
Millennials can be notorious for asking the question, “Why not?” However, a deeper understanding of the millennials will reveal their strong urge towards action. They do not want to be told that something can’t be done.
If companies find a novel way of tapping into this power of transformation, the leadership team can actually benefit from the young bloods who could be your Innovation Champions.
Nurture Innovation Champions within the organization.
Brand ambassadors are influential because they are the “face” of a company, product, or brand. It’s an effective way of adding the “human factor” that customers can relate to.
Apart from rewarding employees who were able to come up with innovations, make them your company’s “Innovation Champions” who can influence their own peers. Putting a face on innovation campaigns also make the concept much more achievable and less intimidating. Nurturing these Innovation Champions also help keep the fire burning.
Apart from creating a platform where employees can submit their innovative ideas, offer incentives, as well as criteria that define the prizes. For some innovations, some companies offer paid vacation leaves and even cash gifts. Bigger companies offer a point system wherein the points can later be used as cash to buy big items, including gadgets, in the company’s internal online store.
Some companies even hold events and awards night to highlight their new innovators. It doesn’t matter what kind of system you have as long as you reward the people who came up with the innovative ideas.
Create innovation through collaboration.
There’s a common saying that two heads are better than one. Sometimes, members of another group can offer new ways of solving things. By creating a culture of collaboration in your organization, you are encouraging your team members not just to think outside the box but also “think outside their own box” or departments. When employees feel that they can contribute to other teams, they feel even more empowered to help the company grow.
Collaboration with external groups such as research companies, universities, think tanks, government agencies, and non-governmental organization (NGO) can also lead to innovations that can only be achieved when business leaders get outside thinkers in.
Ready to innovate?
If you already have an innovation campaign in place, you can undergo an innovation culture assessment to better gauge your competitiveness amongst today’s highly innovative businesses.
Regardless of your company’s number of years in the business, creating a culture of innovation is a good business and management practice. In fact, why don’t you kick start the culture of innovation now? That, in itself, is an innovation.