Fostering innovation in your business is what gives birth to new ideas, products, and processes, or leads to revamping older ideas, products, and processes in fresh ways.
But what does fostering innovation mean? It means making it a habit and an intention to encourage innovation and creativity in your team.
Will they fail sometimes? Yes. But if you don’t give them license to fail sometimes, innovation is effectively stifled because everyone is too scared to try anything new. Long story short? A culture of innovation starts with leadership––that’s you!
How to Foster Innovation Culture
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are a few things companies that are successful at cultivating innovation have in common. We touch on a few of those things below.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’. What most people don’t know is the second part of the phrase, ‘curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back.’
Curiosity leads to the discovery of new things. Without curiosity, human beings would still be in the stone age. If you want your brand to stay at the top of its game, you need to be a company that is curious and that stays curious.
Gather as much information about your market as possible. With new information, you’ll get new ideas, which leads to new innovations. Additionally, never stop growing yourself as a leader. Attend business seminars, trade meetings, conferences, and interact with your peers in the industry as frequently as you can.
Opportunities don’t typically knock twice. So when they do knock, you need to recognize them as the gift they are. If your industry and its consumers are not satisfied with the current range of products available in your market, that means there’s opportunity for innovation there.
Think about it. If businesses didn’t make the most of opportunities, there would be no smartphones; just a simple keypad phone with enough functionality to make calls and send SMS.
Think Outside the Box
Inspiration for innovation in your chosen field doesn’t always have to come from inside your industry. Think outside the box. Upgrading products is one thing; you can get away with using the same basic model and build on it.
However, when you’re innovating and creating something new, cast a broader vision. This helps ensure that whatever product you design is in a league of its own. If no one created the assembly line for the meat processing industry, the way we assemble things like automobiles would be completely different today!
Celebrate innovation in your company. This doesn’t necessarily have to be just about developing new technologies and products. It can also be about workplace dynamics.
Incorporate new models and workflows to increase efficiency and productivity, and to lighten the load on your team members. For example, try breaking out of the 9-to-5, chained to a desk model, and replace it with a more flexible and dynamic office system.
Start small if need be. However, when you celebrate the innovation already happening around you, it inspires people to continue to innovate.
Listen to Your Customers
Listen to any and all feedback from your customers. While a customer isn’t always right, they also aren’t always wrong. Feedback from someone who has spent money on your services and made the most of them can be very helpful in improving and enhancing the quality of what you offer. It also gives you ideas of ways to improve, and yes, innovate in the future!
How Well Do You Foster Innovation?
If you found yourself nodding your head as you read these tips, patting yourself on the back for already doing many of them, then congrats! You’re well on your way to creating a culture of innovation. If you recognize some areas that maybe need work––there’s no time like the present!