9 Innovation Strategies for Your Business
The modern business world understands the importance of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. Whether it is a start-up or a multinational company, almost every business is pouring in plenty of resources into innovation.
Some companies have hired chief innovation officers and are paying them a lot of money for managing the innovation processes of their company, while some are relying on modern technology.
It is common knowledge that in order to keep your business afloat, there is a never-ending need for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Despite spending ample money and resources, innovation remains a matter of concern for most companies.
What is even worse is the failure to figure out why so many businesses either fail in their innovation initiative or have a hard time sustaining their performance.
Here is the quote about innovation in business from Peter Drucker:
“Marketing and innovation are the only two functions of a business.”
The idea of innovation might seem quite simple, but the devil is in the details. The fundamental reason for the failure of innovation initiatives is the lack of an innovation strategy.
Here you will learn nine innovation strategies for your business that will facilitate game-changing innovation.
1. Encourage Intrapreneurship
An intrapreneur is similar to an entrepreneur; the only difference is that they don’t start their own business when they get an innovative idea; they bring the idea to their organization.
The organization takes the raw idea and refines it into an implementable and marketable idea by using organizational resources.
To encourage intrapreneurship, you should give your employees the freedom to freely share their ideas by employing a “no idea is a bad idea” policy.
Make it easier for them to pitch their ideas to the decision-makers, so they feel valued and heard. Provide all your employees an incentive by rewarding the ones that bring innovative ideas that benefit the organization.
2. Establish Open Lines of Communication
If you want your employees to create an abundance of exceptional innovative ideas, it is important that you establish an open communication channel between the management and the employees.
This will allow you to keep everybody in the loop and aware of what the organization is going through and what is required of the employees.
An innovation example from Southwest airlines will give you a better idea of what an open communication channel will do for your organization.
During the gulf war of 1990-91, fuel costs skyrocketed, and Southwest Airlines was faced with a difficult situation.
Throughout this ordeal, all the employees were kept in the loop and were asked to come up with innovative ideas to deal with this problem.
The pilots found a way to reduce fuel usage while ensuring that safety and service don’t get compromised.
This is a great example of how the organization’s confidence in its employees paid off, and the organization saved millions of dollars.
3. Reduce Bureaucracy
The organizations that are focused on bureaucracy more than the end results have a hard time when it comes to innovation. It is a well-known fact that organizations with highly complex bureaucratic systems have a low productivity level.
They require the employees to go through complex and tedious channels to get their work done, and ultimately the bureaucratic processes outweigh the actual work done.
In such a work environment, the employees have little or no creative freedom and what’s even worse is that they have no time to come up with innovative ideas for the organization. To ensure that your employees don’t get stuck in tedious bureaucratic steps, eliminate as much bureaucracy as possible.
Develop a culture where employees are focused on the end result more than the process.
This provides a lot of room for creativity from your employees, which is the goal of increasing innovation in your organization.
4. Develop a Sense of Ownership in Your Staff
If the interests of your employees are aligned with the organization, then everyone will not only have a great incentive to come up with new and innovative ideas, they will also be motivated to work harder and go that extra mile when required.
You need to make sure that every employee knows how their individual efforts are going to help the organization and what the long-term benefits are going to be for that employee.
Stock ownership is another great way of motivating your employees because it directly aligns the organizations and the employee’s interests.
This means that the employees will put in extra effort outside of work hours to come up with innovative ideas that can help the organization and ultimately increase their own profits.
5. Overlook Trivial Failures
When you give your employees the freedom to come up with innovative ideas, there will always be failures and errors. Everyone doesn’t think the same way, and there are certainly going to be some employees that don’t think the same as you.
There are going to be ideas that don’t work for you, but you need to appreciate the effort, tolerate the failure, and move on.
Make sure that you don’t discourage your employees. Let them know exactly what went wrong and how they can improve future ideas, but never put them down.
There is always some risk involved in innovation; if your employees are afraid of failures, they wouldn’t want to take the risk.
Failures are a part of growth, so make sure that everyone learns from their failure and moves on.
6. Get Rid of Redundant Processes
As you innovate and develop new ways and processes, the old processes will become redundant. Make sure that you get rid of those redundant processes right away, or else they will keep siphoning organization resources that could be used somewhere else.
This creates room and frees up resources for new projects and processes.
The quicker you realize that there is no use in holding on to old practices, the better. Otherwise, you will keep squandering the invaluable resources of time and energy on redundant processes.
Plus, when your employees have to spend their energy on processes that are not benefiting them or the organization, they will start losing motivation, which you will see in their work.
To maintain a working environment that is conducive to innovative ideas, make sure that old processes and projects are eliminated and are replaced by new practices and processes that increase productivity and innovation.
7. Establish an Effective Reward System
Anyone who has some knowledge of human resource management will understand how important an effective reward system is.
When you want to sustain a creative environment that encourages innovation, it becomes even more important.
It determines whether your employees are going to stay motivated and keep coming up with new ideas or not.
It goes without saying that when someone comes up with an innovative idea that benefits the organization, they need to be rewarded. However, it’s not that simple.
If you reward the individuals only for big ideas, the smaller and less dramatic ideas may get discouraged. If you opt for team-based rewards, it can create a competitive environment that can be counter-productive, especially when it comes to cross-team collaboration.
Although sometimes competitiveness can have a positive effect on the productivity of employees, it has more cons than pros.
Thus it is best if you nurture a collaborative environment rather than a competitive one. An effective reward system is one that takes all of this into account before rewarding an individual or a team.
8. Encourage Your Employees to Take a Break
People in America get fewer vacation days compared to other first world countries. The sad thing is, they don’t even utilize the limited amount of vacation days they do get.
Many people are addicted to work and forget how important vacations and breaks are.
Besides the uncountable benefits to physical health, a vacation has thousands of psychological benefits.
If you want your employees always to be 100%, encourage them to take vacations. Encourage them to take some time off from all the hustle and pressure of work once in a while and spend time with their families.
This will help refresh their minds and increase productivity. Fresh minds mean more new and innovative ideas.
9. Be Progressive
There is nothing better than a progressive leader to encourage innovation in your company. As a leader, you should lead by example and serve as a role model for your employees.
When you are fulfilling your roles and responsibility as a leader, you will be able to expect the same from your employees.
Remember, good leaders don’t try to micromanage their employees; they give them creative freedom, which facilitates innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Optimism and innovation go hand in hand. Try to be an optimistic leader because optimism is contagious.
Your optimism will start rubbing off on your employees, and before you know it, all your employees will start working with new optimism and motivation.
There are a million different ways you can bring innovation to your company, but you need to understand that change takes time; nothing significant was ever achieved overnight.
Remember that your employees are your assets, and in order to maximize their capacity for innovation, you need to facilitate them in every way possible.
Follow the above-mentioned strategies, and you will see that innovation is not as difficult as it’s made out to be.
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