Ways to Encourage Innovation and Why Every Company Needs It
Every few years, the way we do business undergoes a complete shift owing to the pace of technological progress. These striking technological advancements transcend to the business models across value chains - accessibility, execution, as well as, deliverance. Staying ahead with technology adoption may directly translate to efficiencies, larger outreach as well as the competitiveness. While we might understand the benefits of being technologically in sync with the times, it is usually not an easy call to disrupt the smooth functioning of processes established over the years, and foray into adoption of a new way of doing things.
When faced with such a dilemma, the key is to seek an answer to ‘why’ - a clear understanding of why the organization needs a technology upgrade will help in bringing forth conviction at all levels. Also, it is pertinent to closely look at the gross time, resources & monetary savings the new approach promises to deliver, or in some situations, technology upgrades may be allowing the business to scale. It is equally important to watch out for inertia and a tendency to believe what has worked thus far will be as functional in the future also.
Technology and innovation is everyone’s business. Most business heads are aware and usually keep abreast of the technological advances taking place in the domain, via various publications and media or through high-level discussions with their counterparts. A new technology adoption/ recommendation or an innovative approach for a certain process, however, can come from anybody in the organization. It therefore becomes imperative for businesses to weave in flexibility and openness for innovative ideas to emerge. Creating avenues where fresh ideas, innovative approaches and new technologies are frequently discussed and recommended keeps the evolution cycle going – and freely rotating. Acknowledgement, appreciation, recognition & rewards are terrific tools to systematically create a culture of innovation in the organization.
Changing workplace systems
We are creatures of habit. Bringing in any procedural change is not easy, even if it perceptively simplifies existing processes and delivers efficiency. The primary hurdle usually is our collective tendency to resist change. It is however easy to induce resilience and flexibility, with a structured approach and thoughtful/ facilitative introduction of new changes.
First step is to keep everyone involved, well-informed i.e. equip everyone with the right understanding, reasons, benefits and facts on the change that is being introduced. Aligning everyone to a bigger vision helps tremendously. Resistance must be crushed not by imposing or with argument, but with dialogues backed by data and enabling assistance towards the adoption of the new technology.
Another crucial step is to outline a well-defined, pre-emptive training calendar to provision easy application. Accessible trouble-shooting manuals and FAQs must also be prepared ahead of the launch. And finally, holding feedback sessions along with circulation of early success stories can promote confidence, develop conviction and ensure quicker absorption timelines.
Innovation & creativity in the workplace
A culture of innovation in an organization thrives only when it is carefully nurtured, through a healthy mix of management approaches, shared values, strategy, and resources. Innovation must not be thought of as actionable based on a certain need, but as a thread that integrates into the operational DNA of the organization. It needs to be cultivated as an instinctive approach in daily work affairs.
At our organization, like most fast-growing ones, innovation is centered around our common passion as well as the company’s vision of polishing the customer experience. At the higher level, there is constant thought on how to serve the customer better - this makes everyone welcome innovation with open arms. Aligning to the same larger goal, therefore, plays a critical role in embracing the changes that come along in achieving the same.
The culture of problem-solving & innovating begins top-down with inviting participation from everyone; and is enhanced by recognition. People feel more innovative and creative when their environment is encouraging. A friendly environment and injecting fun elements boost creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Giving people space and time to think, experiment, and fail is crucial to creating such an environment. Individual accountability and day-to-day work responsibilities must not be compromised/ overlooked in the process.
It's not just the environment, a lot of people come with internal issues that prevent them from going beyond the immediate tasks. Introducing individual counseling, coaching/ mentoring helps people overcome their internal barriers such as lack of confidence, resistance to change, inertia, conflicting belief system, prejudice, or even lack of skills. Regularity, follow-up sessions, and individual focus ensure huge success with such interventions.
Driving factor for the company's growth
Once people feel motivated to contribute with ideas or to the brainstorming sessions towards problem-solving, it is important to ensure that they do not get deterred or dampened owing to other reasons.
The first step to ensuring such an employee engagement is a level-playing field for everyone. Bureaucracy and hierarchy can add undesired layers/ barriers that can diminish people’s enthusiasm for sharing ideas.
Another important factor is trust. If people lack trust, they are unlikely to focus their creative powers in building solutions. When they feel they are heard, valued, and trusted, they bring their best selves to work. By giving credit where it is due, we are directly encouraging teams to achieve more.
Shared struggles and shared successes are the sweetest. Nothing significant can be achieved in silos or through singular talent. Collaboration is the most profound way of achieving incremental and definite victories. It not only brings different energies to problem-solving but also varied talents and capabilities.
So, while you may be driving the innovation mindset for your business/ workplace, it’s helpful to equip yourself with an understanding that changes are not easy to implement, in spite of your best efforts & intention. Be patient, for innovation is a long battle – a cultural change – whether you are chasing incremental or radical innovation. Remind yourself and those striving alongside you that it might pay off with rich dividends.