Innovation drives success. With constant innovation that dares to break tried-and-tested processes, your organization can gain a competitive advantage and deliver more value to your customers. Without innovation, your business can stagnate or struggle to adapt to the changing business landscape.
But how do you foster a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace, especially at a time when your employees are working remotely and from different locations? The following strategies can help.
1. Start from the top
Top-level management must encourage their staff to solve tough problems and take ownership and responsibility for their ideas. Senior leaders should also empower their team with the necessary problem-solving tools that will support the innovation process. When an employee successfully innovates a product, service, or process, acknowledge and reward them for their hard work. This way, their colleagues will understand that innovation is highly valued in the company, and they will be more motivated to innovate, as well.
2. Develop an innovation strategy
Have a clear vision of where you want innovation to take your business and set guiding principles to make that vision happen. Your innovation strategy should be centered around a specific and measurable goal, such as growing your market share for the current year by 2% through product and service innovation. A good strategy clearly states what is expected of employees according to their rank and role and reinforces that innovation is everyone’s responsibility.
3. Give your employees a reason to care
Most employees don’t innovate because there’s nothing at stake for them. Some team members might even think that only senior managers should innovate. Get your staff to participate in problem-solving initiatives by making innovation a part of everyone’s job description or a critical criterion for promotions. With their job stability or career advancement on the line, your employees will be more motivated to innovate.
4. Make innovation a part of your daily operations
Being swamped with too much work is one of the reasons why employees can’t innovate. They may want to streamline a certain process, but they can’t find the time to think and come up with solutions. Some team leaders schedule innovation seminars or workshops to help squeeze out their staff’s creative juices, but this isn’t ideal. Innovation should be second nature to your staff, not an activity that’s only done during weekend retreats.
To unleash your employees’ imagination and creativity, make room for them to innovate daily. Multinational conglomerate corporation 3M, for instance, gives its employees an hour every day for constructive daydreaming, during which they can work on a hobby or a side project.
5. Remove bureaucratic hindrances to innovation
Internal processes such as having to go through multiple layers of approvals and recommendations can stifle innovation or dishearten staff. Look for ways you can remove the red tape and fast track good ideas that will benefit the company if implemented immediately.
6. Make failure the norm
Employees may be hesitant to innovate because they’re scared of being penalized for failing. Make them understand that this won’t be the case in your company. Not all innovations will succeed the first time — even Edison’s one working light bulb took about a thousand iterations to get right. So do not punish your employees for trying, and don’t consider failed ideas a waste of time but a learning lesson. Push them to take risks, even if they fail.
7. Use the right tools
Using the appropriate tools such as time management software and automation technologies can speed up basic processes, thus enabling your team to have more time for innovation. What’s more, leveraging the right tools, methods, and processes can help employees find solutions to complex problems more quickly.
It’s critical that you partner with a business technology specialist that can support your innovation goals by offering the right products and services and giving expert technology advice. Midwest Data Center can provide your business with tailor-fit solutions while enabling you to foster a culture of innovation. Learn more about how we can help your business grow by sending us a message.