Nurturing a Culture of Innovation
Our world today is evolving faster (technologically speaking), than it ever did in the past. Technology is constantly being improved to better suit our lifestyles and needs. Even before the high tech boom in the Silicon Valley in the 20th Century, the business world was in a constant race to be more creative and more innovative. How then, do we as business owners nurture a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace to keep our companies thriving and progressing?
Innovation is not a mathematical equation that can be applied to a brand or company. Instead, it is an environment that is nurtured in such a way that leaders are able to unlock and harness the “light bulb” ideas that go off. Business leaders and owners can not just announce that the office is now an innovative office and encourage all staff to get thinking creatively. Rather, they must procure an environment, both physical and mental, that engages employees in a non-traditional way. Here are just a few suggestions to help you shape the environment in your company into an innovative one that allows for employees to be open and able to take risks in their thinking.
- Schedule Brainstorming – Teams should brainstorm at the beginning of each project. Bouncing ideas off each other can be helpful to mold and stretch ideas that may have been ignored in other traditional offices. All members of staff should be included in the brainstorming, not just the people with a “creative” title. During these sessions encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking by making it a safe place to say anything. Who knows one idea may spur another and so on.
- Rewards – Give rewards, even small ones for creative ideas around the office. This might include a longer lunch or a premium parking spot or a small gift card.
- Don’t be afraid to fail! Failure may seem negative, but it also means that you were not afraid to try. Even Ben Franklin failed hundreds of time before his experiment succeeded. 50 to 70 per cent of all new product innovations fail at even the most successful companies.
- The Physical Office – Make the office fun where ever possible. Google International allows for games, couches and even resting areas to get employees comfy and relaxed. A relaxed mind can think more creatively.
- Provide Education and Training – Learning should be a lifelong adventure. Give employees a chance to be learning and expanding their knowledge base. That knowledge will allow for more creative thinking.
- Allow Alone Time – Most of us think about the innovative process as a group of like-minded individuals pounding out the solution to a problem. Don’t forget to allow for some alone time for employees to really think through a solution.