Innovation—it’s a buzzword that’s been floating around entrepreneurs and small-businesses for years, and for good reason.
True innovation can result in massive improvements and growth, regardless of the field that you’re in. As you begin to push for innovation in your business or company, follow the five steps of building your company’s culture of innovation:
Set expectations: Pursuing an innovative idea may be risky and come with a chance for failure, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t limit those risks from the beginning. Ensure that your employees know that you have high expectations for their work habits, time management skills, attention to detail, etc. If a project or idea experiences failure, you want to ensure that failure is due to an issue with the idea, not with the employee who is pursuing it.
Pick the right person: When assigning projects, consider more than workflows and the length of your employee’s task lists. Instead, consider skill sets, passions, potential areas for growth, and the likelihood that the person you pick for the job will really “own it.”
Increase dialogue: Once you’ve got the right person for the job, it’s time to explore new ideas. As a leader, make sure you’ve opened up opportunities for true dialogue. In an open discussion, ideas can be freely tossed around without fear of repercussion or shame. One of the best ways you can model this behavior is to freely discuss the pros and cons of your own ideas in an open forum.
Assign personal accountability: Once you’ve got the right person on the job, make sure that you’re maintaining a culture of accountability, no matter how many employee’s hands are on a particular project. One way to do this is by making it clear that there is one final individual who makes the final decision and takes responsibility for the project as a whole.
Keep it productive: The idea of celebrating failure is a trend that you’ve likely heard from your favorite podcasts, read in your favorite entrepreneur blogs, and, perhaps, even touted throughout your own organization. While this can be helpful to develop confidence amongst your employees, remember that failure, in and of itself, adds no value to your projects. Productive failures, on the other hand, highlight previously unknown or unforeseeable issues, as well as potential solutions.
As you push for more innovative ideas, products, and services from your employees, keep these stages in mind, and, in the true spirit of innovation, pay attention to the results and don’t be afraid to make changes and try again.
Want to learn more about how you can support your employees’ innovative ideas? Learn about the power of experimentation.