Creating an Environment of Innovation
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Kelsey Pierson, Marketing, DevMynd
An organization, especially one at the enterprise level, must continually reinvent itself and take a look at how to make their offerings better, their customers happier, and its overall image in the marketplace. Without constant introspection, it's possible to be left behind wondering what could have been done differently. But, without an environment where innovation is valued and even expected of employees, there's not much hope that an organization will land on their next big idea.
Here are some best practices we believe will help create an environment to foster innovation. Of course, they're not a failsafe, but we believe the careful application of these will help organizations get on the right track to transform and respond to the demands of an ever-changing marketplace.
Innovation isn't just perpetual generation of new ideas. There has to be economic value behind a new idea, and customers create value. Companies that encourage and promote their dedication to their customers at all levels of the organization tend to identify more opportunities for innovation. It makes sense. If it's clear what customers want to see next, it's easier to make a vision a reality with the validation from pre-existing customers.
Of course, becoming customer-centric is a long process with many potential hurdles, but it will pay off in dividends for innovation and customer lifetime value.
Promoting an "owner mentality" among employees creates the kind of responsibility and empowerment necessary for innovative ideas to rise to the top. If an entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged within an organization, employees will come forward with their best ideas which could, in turn, be the organization's best idea.
Promoting entrepreneurial spirit means hiring well and applying rewards when possible to compel employees to keep thinking about how to transform the organization for the better. Additionally, ownership implies responsibility, which often means authority. Letting employees run with ideas helps them improve the innovative climate within an organization. It's also a great way to encourage new leaders to keep enterprise innovation in their pocket as an ongoing objective.
Accept the Reality of Risk
Larger organizations are typically adverse to risk, especially if they see it as disruptive to the existing model that's brought them success. The problem with this outlook, though, is that it takes no small amount of risk to take advantage of innovation and smart strategic moves. This view can be almost paralyzing, and it starts with individuals who may feel that risk inherently flows directly to them.
Companies that want to be innovative leaders need to create a culture of thoughtful risk-taking. Creating this atmosphere can be difficult, as it's not easy to separate organizational risk from personal risk. Managers and even employees have to feel safe and confident before being encouraged to solve significant problems and come up with strategic solutions. If not, they may not make it very far.
When In Doubt, Farm it Out
Entrenchment can get the best of a company, and sometimes the best way to launch a big new idea is to bring in some fresh eyes to take a look and validate an inkling or help get to the next level. This implementation of a new take could be a situation where a consultant, when carefully and thoughtfully applied, could help work through an idea or help point out what challenges a company didn't take into account.
Additionally, sometimes finding the right people to follow through and execute on an idea is time-consuming and expensive. With technology and digital transformation moving at a breakneck pace, a consultant will often have the specialized skills necessary to help bring a new, innovative offering to market while a competitor is still conducting interviews.
In conclusion, as we see disruption and risk continue to pay off, organizations will chase innovation and focus on digital transformation. It's a worthwhile and necessary thing to pursue, but it must be enabled through the culture of a company.