4 Ways to Encourage Innovative Thinking in the Workplace
It’s no secret that innovation drives success in business. ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’ according to the old adage and in the commercial world, a lack of change can lead to stagnation and even failure.
Driving meaningful change is rarely something best shouldered by the C-suite alone. PwC’s Innovation Benchmark Report found that bringing multiple parties into the mix – including workers and customers – makes for stronger innovation.
This means the success or failure of a business model in 2020 often comes down to workplace culture. If new ideas are amplified and if innovative thinking becomes a key part of the operational structures, then a business is more likely to get ahead of its competitors and flourish.
Here’s how to encourage that innovative mindset to take hold in your workforce:
- Incentivise Innovation Fear of breaking things is the greatest barrier to creating an innovative business culture. Until you attach incentives, it’s hard for this to change. To combat this apprehension, weave innovation into the core of everything you do. Set ambitious targets and give workers the flexibility to find new ways to reach them. After all, becoming chained to strict operational processes rarely encourages creativity. It’s about the end goal, not how you get there, so place the focus accordingly. Try making innovation a core business principle so everyone understands the importance of trying new things. When experimentation is a goal in itself, workers will naturally become less daunted by the prospect.
- Host Knowledge Shares Innovation isn’t automatic, so attaching incentives is not sufficient on its own. A good working knowledge of the latest industry news is crucial for nurturing innovative thinking. Consider weaving industry newsletters and company-wide meetings into your internal communications strategy to keep everyone, from intern to director, up to date. Sometimes, outsourcing inspiration can pay dividends – you might like to attend a conference or even host a session in-house. It’s even possible to book a professional speaker who specializes in innovation to get everyone feeling energized and inspired.
- Speak to Your Customers Never innovate just for the sake of it. It’s a simple rule, but one that’s easy to forget in the scramble to get ahead. Apple is known for its innovative approach to tech, but the company hasn’t earned its place in the market by accident. In fact, Apple won its position among the world’s 50 best innovators by placing people first and listening to customers. This approach has allowed the smartphone giant to continue to innovate in profitable ways even through an industry-wide downturn. Instead of running with fresh ideas, work with your customers to create valuable solutions to the challenges they’re facing.
- Create Space Tech firm, 3M, has become notorious for its ‘15% culture’, a generous 15% time provision for all its staff. This can be used to pursue professional projects and to explore new ways of working. It’s a great example of how to situate innovation at the core of how your business operates. Naturally, this comes at a cost – and if you can’t spare the minutes, perhaps you can spare the office space. Workplace design can have a surprising impact on how well individuals and teams collaborate – it’s the reason why office cubicles have long been seen as a thing of the past. An innovation-friendly workplace could feature a range of workstations designed to aid group work, which can in turn help creative thinkers and business minds to lean on each other. After all, it’s a combination of creativity and business acumen that keeps a business profitable as the world around it changes.
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