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5 Ways to Make Innovation a Priority at the Workplace

One of the many buzz words that keeps getting thrown around in the business world today is innovation. Every company wants to be innovative and almost every organization wants to be ahead of the curve. But when it comes to developing new ways in which customer needs can be fulfilled, very few end up achieving success.

This is because much of the inspiration for new products and services comes from within a company; its employees. An organization’s employees are in a very strong position to fully understand their business’s strengths, customer demands and how each can be leveraged. However, not many companies know how to develop an environment where their employees can be encouraged to be more creative.

Recently, General Assembly (an educational institute focused on technology, business and design) and ONEin3 (an organization that connects Boston’s young adults) held an event that brought together entrepreneurs, design thinkers and innovators on to one platform. The goal was to understand what companies needed to do in order to allow innovation to flourish at the workplace. They came up with five different strategies that worked across all sectors. These include:

      • Understanding the different types of innovation you want to foster: Most companies restrict innovation to the development of new products or services. While that is also important, there are numerous other ways in which employees can be creative. As a company, you should highlight the different areas in which employees can be involved in innovation. This can be related to profit models, processes, products and policies or, in short, the 4Ps. This way, employees will be able to add value to their work and get more involved.
      • Empower employees to push back: Many organizations present themselves as flag bearers of innovation but are still risk averse when it comes to trying out new ideas. Most middle managers are responsible for ensuring a businessǯs core activities are operating at an optimal level and are, hence, unwilling to risk it all for the sake of an untried idea. You can help provide your employees with a friendly environment to test their new ideas in a way that helps minimize risk yet still fosters innovation.
      • Redefine metrics and incentives: A majority of the business metrics currently in play are archaic and hence are not adequate measurements of new ideas and initiatives. In addition, many of the incentives we offer to employees do not fully compensate them for their innovative efforts. It is important to create an overhaul of both your performance metrics and incentives in order to encourage innovation.
      • Give employees the tools they need to make their case: Sometimes even the best ideas are not worth anything if they donǯt manage to bring any value to the organization. In order for employees to come up with initiatives that truly benefit a company, you will have to equip them with the knowledge necessary.
      • Create a safe space for experimentation: This will help employees develop the confidence to come up with new ideas without the fear of failure. It will also help your company become more open to future investments in projects that are considered slightly risky.

By reimagining how they evaluate employee performance and providing them with a support system to confidently test out their ideas, companies will be able to create an environment that is conducive towards creativity and innovation.