9 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation (7 Mins Read)
What’s innovation? Is it merely thinking out of the box or something more than that? The word innovation is used for the emerging new ideas and creative thoughts or imaginations which have not been implemented earlier. Imagination is the only thing which is changing the world rapidly and keeping it ahead at a very fast pace.
While most of the organizations very well recognize the importance of fostering innovation, but very few actually know and understand on how to go and develop that in a company. That’s why, the organizations have to make innovation a part of the fabric of their organization’s culture. Innovation can be driven from anywhere and by anyone within an organization with the right skills and capabilities. A mindset of innovation greatly inspires new thinking and supports new ideas which are engaging and empowering. HR has a major role to play in developing a culture that recognizes and encourages innovation, so that it gets the room to flourish. Let’s have a look at some of the key skills that the HR can help employees develop to drive innovation in the company.
1. Innovation should be a company’s mission: Innovation should be one of the primary focus on a company’s mission as it acts as a starting point for the progress and growth of the company. However, bringing in the culture of innovation starts with the leaders, as they play an extremely critical role in nurturing the innovative ideas. While creating a mission of innovation, it is not only important to look at the things that improve the innovative process, but also focus on the ways to keep innovation flowing across the company.
There’s a huge difference in just saying that innovation is the cornerstone of a company and actually following it through to create a nice workplace which truly strives for innovation
2. Setting clear goals: The leaders have to set the goals and the outcomes need to be tangible. The goals should be clear enough to align the right team members and simultaneously loose enough so that the team members have the autonomy required in order to reach the goals. It will take a lot of creativity and innovation to meet the goals. It’s the ability and the autonomy which will allow in combining the ideas and bring the new perspectives which will do wonders for the company.
3. Have a culture for innovation: By having a strong culture of innovation in the organization, you bestow the power down to every employee to innovate. People do their best when they are driven by inspiration and are also encouraged to push themselves to think out of the box. But, the employees can’t do this when they are micromanaged. Employees must feel free enough to do their innovative thinking and pursue the ideas which they are passionate about. If the management effectively fosters a creative environment in the company, then innovation happens automatically.
When the entire organization does the brainstorming, then the process of narrowing the bunch of ideas towards a single idea happens much quicker, as compared to when only few key people are involved in the process.
4. Work matching with the individual’s interests: When people find their work quite interesting and meaningful, then they will find it motivating as well. The motivated team members are much more persistent and provide more feedback to the system which helps immensely towards innovation. But, what makes the work interesting and meaningful? The one way to make that sure is the job must be a good fit for the individual. The task of the leadership is to match the work that needs to be done perfectly with people who have both the skills and the interest to do it.
When we match that perfectly then it works like magic and we have a better chance of seeing innovation work miraculously.
5. Building high performing teams: The super performing team is the mantra today for the business world. There are various key requirements for this team to be created and well placed to perform brilliantly. The requirements are the inter dependability amongst the team members, an effective structure and the clarity of the goals in addition to the belief in the long term results of the team’s collective efforts. The teams also need to have a sense of psychological safety where open and honest communications can happen.
6. Empower the employees: Innovation is a value which means having a culture in the company where every employee feels he or she has some level of freedom to think independently and find new ways to solve the problems. The great leaders take smart decisions, but they also know that they can’t do it all alone and shouldn’t do it. Leading in a great way is more about listening, trusting and empowering the teams as it is about anything else.
7. Taking Risks: The leaders should encourage taking the risk on the strongest of ideas and explore with that. Risk taking sparks new ideas and drives out the fear of failures, when the employees aren’t worried about hitting a dead end. When employees develop the risk taking skills, it helps the organizations stay ahead of the competition. If the risk pays off, then it may lead to implementing innovation in the process. If it doesn’t work out, then it becomes an opportunity to learn why it didn’t work out and try again.
8. Reward the Failures too : If you’re not failing, then the chances are you’re not innovating much. Failure is almost inevitable when you’re fostering a culture of innovation because there’s always a certain degree of uncertainty. One reason that employees often do not express their ideas is that they don’t want to be a failure if it doesn’t work out. So, tolerate the mistakes, expect failure and reward the lessons learned. Ideas usually don’t work the first time.
One of the most powerful tools for promoting employee creativity and innovation is to recognize and reward it. People like to be recognized and rewarded for their initiatives and ideas. It is a practice which pays off very well for the organization.
9. Collaboration : Innovation requires diverse talent, ideation and different skill sets. So, they have to collaborate amongst different teams and departments in order to bring unique perspectives as well as find the gaps and fill them easily. Collaboration is an effective tool for innovation as the employees pool in their collective knowledge to execute their ideas.
Now innovation matters more than ever. Fostering of a culture of innovation starts with HR providing the access to the training and development tools which helps build the innovation mindset at all the levels of the organization. The organizations can capitalize on the various new ideas which from across the business, rather than rely on the big ideas from only a select few. There is no doubt that innovation is extremely important for a company in order to stay in the competition and therefore fostering of innovative ideas should be a top priority. When the companies strive to have a collaborative environment, they should know that how important it is to allow the workers to use their own intuitions for the innovations which are beneficial for the company and give them rewards for their attempts at innovation. An innovative workplace is highly stimulating for the employees as well as highly profitable for the business. Fostering innovation in your company will not only reduce the workplace turnover but it will boost the productivity, improve employee relations, reduce wastes and costs and improve sales and customer relationships.