The return on investment gained by innovation has been demonstrated time and again by many organizations. Businesses need to innovate to stay afloat in their respective industries, move head of their competition, create new ideas and products, better serve their customers, and so much more.
It’s no wonder that so many organizations pour so many resources into their innovation departments. Finding innovation success is one of the single most important things a company can do. Speaking of resources, what is the most valuable resource when it comes to innovation?
It’s people who innovate, which is why it’s absolutely essential for businesses to encourage their employees to innovate in as many ways as possible. How can you encourage innovation in everything your employees do? Here are few ways to ignite the spark of new ideas.
Create the Right Environment
Workplace environment is possibly the greatest driver of innovation, but R&D departments are notoriously stressful places wot work. This can lead to innovators spending more time worrying about their jobs rather than focusing on advancing their ideas. Stress can kill creativity, so it’s essential for businesses to create environments that are more relaxed, yet still focused on innovation. This doesn’t mean pampering employees and letting them relax and do as they please. It means allowing them to focus on creative and experimental ideas, rather than constantly being worried about the results. This can be accomplished by rewarding experimentation, even if it results in failure.
Embrace New Ideas
There are many dangers associated with trying to innovate in a bubble. R&D departments often make the mistake of getting caught up with the same ideas and methods that don’t always produce results. What’s worse is they become cloistered from new ideas and methodologies. If you want to encourage more innovation from your employees, reward them for thinking outside of the box, and remind them that they are in charge of finding new ideas and creating new things. It doesn’t matter where the new ideas come from and how the innovation process was handled, it’s the endgame that matters.
Always remind employees that they are there to explore innovation by any means, not just the one they are accustomed to.
Clearly Define Your Goals
Nothing stymies innovation like unclear goals. If neither you nor your employees can clearly articulate your goals, they will have little success in achieving them. A large part of innovation is clearly articulating the challenge that you are facing so that everyone who works on solving it knows precisely what they are trying to achieve. Spend some time creating a clear and precise plan with your innovation team that gives them a solid direction. This will help them innovate better and more efficiently in the future.
Embrace Open Innovation
Remember that innovation doesn’t have to be kept within the confines of your walls, and employees should be rewarded for pursuing expertise from outside sources. Many R&D departments who have embraced open innovation have found more success because they have allowed new ideas from new people to enter into the equation (see the success NASA has had). Open innovation is a pathway to new ideas that your innovation department can use to enhance (not replace!) the work they are doing. Encourage them to explore open innovation and use it well and they will find the innovation success your company has been seeking.