Innovation is a necessity if you want your company to be a long-runner. However, many if not most companies struggle to encourage innovation. If your company needs to improve its ability to innovate, then it is up to you to create a culture of innovation.
You Have to Stand Back to Let Innovation Happen
The surest way to kill promising new ideas before they even get developed is to obsess too much about deadlines and the budget. Innovators need time to explore, and this means sometimes going down dead ends. Your creative people need to see that you trust them to get it all worked out for themselves. Make your company’s objectives, core capacities, and focus areas clear to them, tell them that that they are responsible for developing the products or services that will take the company into the future, and then stand back and let them do it.
Put the Right People In Contact with Each Other
Give your creative people the opportunity to interact with others in your organization who can help them build momentum for innovation. Encourage their relationships with their colleagues from other departments in the innovation chain. When they start talking to people with different but related jobs, they’ll start getting practical new ideas. Make sure that all of them know the various experts who can help them solve any problems they run into.
While hierarchy can be needed to keep everything focused and running smoothly, it can often act as a barrier to change. When it comes to your innovation chain, you need to minimize hierarchy and maximize individual autonomy. You need to allow the innovators in your company to bypass the company hierarchy when needed. Do not make them have to have an appointment to see you or other decision-makers. Let them requisition their own supplies, within reason. Do everything you can to make it easy for them to make something new.
Suspend Your Judgments
You may not be an engineer, scientist, writer, or another creative type. You need to remember that you may not know enough to make judgments about how your creative people’s work is progressing. This means that you probably don’t know enough to dismiss any idea out of hand.
Hire Different Kinds of Thinkers
You don’t just need the best minds, you need different kinds of minds if you want to cultivate a culture of innovation. You need system thinkers who can oversee multiple related projects. You need multitaskers who can handle several projects at once and jump from project to project as needed. You need obsessively focused thinkers who seize upon a single idea and do not let go. In many ways, this diversity of minds is just as important a factor when it comes to hiring as education and work experience are.
Hire Different Levels of Experience
You need graduates fresh out of college who know all the latest techniques. You also need wise, experienced people who have been doing what they do for years, even if their techniques may be a little out of date. Each brings something different to the process of innovation.
Innovation comes when your creative talents are not only allowed to be innovative but supported at it. As a leader, it is your job to do both. When you encourage a culture of innovation at your company and don’t get in its way, you are sure to get the new ideas that you’re after.