The ways to encourage creative thinking, inspiring greater creativity in your business can help spur innovation. Getting your staff to think creatively isn’t always easy, though. You need to create a culture in which all employees are actively encouraged to put ideas forward. But how do you get the best from people and help them to be creative?
Team innovation is the backbone of every successful company. It’s what sets a business apart from the competition and helps it grow and prosper. Today, innovation is all around us. From exciting new technologies to new startup business models, the very idea of innovation is taking off just as fast as the businesses that embrace it.
But not all companies are prepared to push innovation within their organizations. Changing workplace systems and procedures requires resilience and flexibility, and it’s an unfortunate reality that many people are afraid of or continue to resist change. So how can you turn the tide and embrace innovation at your company?
1. Encourage alternative points of view.
There’s usually more than one way to solve a problem, but it becomes more beneficial to find the most efficient and cost-effective way. Cognitive diversity in the workplace is a healthy attribute. Looking at different options to address issues and different ways of completing tasks can keep a workplace vibrant and more open to new ideas. It’s what sets a business apart from the competition and helps it grow and prosper.
2. Inspire people to voice their opinions.
Management’s open-door policy is seldom enough to encourage employees to share their ideas and opinions. The reasons employees choose not to speak up are many. Note that the fear of repercussions among employees is not unfounded. The research found that employees who voice their opinions are often seen in their organizations as threatening, less competent, and lacking in loyalty. Companies that create a culture that values and uses employee opinions are more likely to see their efforts met with improved employee engagement.
3. Model and promote fearless behavior.
Eighty percent of creative new ideas come from your employees on the front line; less than 20 percent of business innovation is generated from members of the C-Suite. The question on employees’ minds should always be, “How can we do things better, and how can we provide better services to our customers?” If you are willing to take the advice of employees when they suggest how they can improve operations, there will be a noticeable increase in new ideas.
4. Consider continual improvement one of the company’s core values.
“It sounds trite, but it’s true. Facebook’s mantra is to “Move fast and break stuff.” Most of the time, testing any given new idea/tactic in real-time instead of debating them endlessly won’t sink an early-stage company (assuming proper common sense, ethics, etc.). So giving employees the freedom to screw up as long as they have the discipline to test and measure encourages the freedom to innovate.” ~ Avi Levine, Digital Professional Institute.
5. Reward innovative ideas.
When employees introduce ideas that are incorporated into the company’s operations and services, recognize their efforts. Public recognition in the company’s newsletter or in employee meetings goes a long way in motivating people to voice their suggestions. Holding employee contests to incorporate new ideas is another way to create a team attitude within the company. People will go the extra mile when they feel respected and recognized.
6. Be a progressive leader.
Progressive leaders are those who are able to look outside their immediate workplace challenges and encompass a greater view, one where the benefits are broadened and stretched far beyond the executive or company. Progressive leaders work from the inside out. When faced with business challenges, they first look at their own internal capacity and assess where they need to change and develop their own inner qualities. They view problems as opportunities to expand their own inner development in order to further their own purposes and the purposes of others in and beyond their organization.
7. Promote risk-taking.
Encourage people to try even those ideas they feel are a little risky. Remember how many of your best ideas — such as creating your own company — succeeded despite the lack of guarantees. It’s not mistakes that lead us to success, it’s risk-taking, and as leaders, we need to be cultivating a culture of smart risk-taking. A culture where people understand what risk-taking is, what’s is a smart risk, and then feel comfortable in proposing, or even taking risks.