Innovation is the catalyst to business growth, both when starting up and to keeping your existing business profitable. But how do you create a team that is more innovative without taking risks that could affect the success of your business? Innovation is built on trust in your organization and learning from the inevitable mistakes that are a part of succeeding in business.
Attitude to innovation
What is your attitude to innovation in your business? Could you briefly sum up the culture of your business and how it fosters innovation? Taking this a step further, if someone were to phone your business and ask one of your staff members or associates the same question, would their answer be the same as yours? Does everyone in your business understand this?
In innovative businesses, the lines of communication are truly open. Everyone is clear about the purpose and direction of the business (the business culture) and the processes that foster innovation and creativity.
Replace negative thoughts with positive actions
Negative thought patterns tend to destroy creative thinking and ruin our ability to make good decisions. We make terrible decisions when we are stressed out and those thoughts consume us. Think about how the situation can be a blessing. What is one potentially positive outcome?
Be open to new ideas
It’s not enough to simply say, “That’s a great idea, we should try it!” Too many ideas simply disappear because good intentions are not a substitute for action. You need to appoint an idea champion and have a system in place for tracking good ideas through to completion, along with action deadlines. In addition, many ideas die because they are not properly resourced. A more formal idea evaluation process will allow you to assess and allocate the resources needed to bring ideas to fruition.
Start with research. Establish whether the market is big enough for the new product or service, and identify the points of difference from other similar products or services.
There needs to be genuine demand for the idea, so it helps to know who you’re up against – who they are, what they offer, and how much they charge. That’ll help you assess whether your proposed pricing is right, and how much you’ll need to sell to make a profit.
Seek diverse thought
If everyone thinks the same, it’s unlikely staff will:
- challenge the usual way of doing things
- find the best solutions
- be responsive to customer needs
Create teams with diverse life experience and connections. Consider diversity when hiring. When looking for solutions or asking for ideas, encourage diversity of thought.
Pull in diverse viewpoints and you’re more likely to:
- understand opportunities and challenges more deeply
- have access to different networks
- build on ideas or add an angle you may not have considered.
Foster and reward creativity
Experience has shown that if a supervisor routinely takes the credit for cost-saving or improved productivity ideas suggested by others, this is as good a way as any to shut off the flow of creativity. After all, who would bother to make improvement suggestions if someone else was going to take the credit?
Top tip: If your people are not afraid to experiment and fail, you’re more likely to foster a creative environment.
However, fear of failure is a sure way to stifle creativity
Here at BagsID we have been reflecting on the innovation culture we have in our business. In particular, we have been looking at new ways to harness the creativity of our team. We have come to the conclusion that only when we provide the right environment can they truly unlock their full potential and drive this business forward.