How to build a culture where people are always looking for ways to evolve, to do different things or to do things differently.
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Innovation can be explained practically as “doing things differently” or “doing different things”. Frame these actions with the requirement to have a positive impact and you have the recipe for sustainability in your business.
In other words, do not make changes for the sake of making changes. Instead, make changes because you have a particular goal in mind and include frameworks for measuring the impact of those changes.
Related: The ultimate test for your company culture
Create an environment that fosters innovation by:
- Being clear and transparent about your business objectives and challenges. Does your team rely on you to fix everything? Do they know what actions have the greatest impact on the success of your business?
- Hiring the right people. Do you assess the personalities of potential recruits? Do you have a dynamic mix of diverse employees?
- Creating a broad awareness of the world. Do your employees know what is happening in their industry? Do they know how fast the world is moving and that change is essential to survival?
- Always looking to what you are trying to achieve and measuring your actions against this standard. Are you getting the desired outcomes?
- Encouraging people to challenge the status quo, to ask questions about how the business is managed and why things are done the way they are. Are you defensive when people ask challenging questions? Do you allow people time to try ideas, to experiment?
- Rewarding people for coming up with new ideas or approaches to existing business practices. Do you have ways to recognise individuals who do innovate? What do you do to keep their interest and energy levels up?
- Creating platforms for collaboration and brainstorming. Do you have cross-functional projects for people to participate? Do you have a dedicated, inspiring place in your office where staff can discuss ideas?
- Move your workforce. Do you have a talent management programme that allows people to shift laterally within your business? By doing this, new teams can be exposed to new ways of thinking so they can leverage individual talents?
- Developing your managers’ skills. Do they know how to lead people and create the space for innovation?
- Measuring the impact of innovation by revisiting desired outcomes. Can you objectively say you've met your objectives?
- Having fun. Does your team enjoy coming to work? Are they stimulated or sapped of all their energy?
Related: Gil Oved from The Creative Counsel on fostering culture
Innovation does not just happen. You need to foster your work environment mindfully so that the creativity can flow.