How to Foster Innovation in Your Team
It’s common knowledge that innovation is critical to sustainable business success. As Theodore Henderson points out in his Forbes article “Why Innovation is Crucial to Your Organization’s Long-Term Success,” innovation enables companies to penetrate markets faster and creates more opportunities in developing markets.
Many people only think about innovation in terms of new products. However, it can also pertain to processes and systems that provide more efficient, effective ways of doing things and consequently free up resources, reduce waste, and achieve better results. That’s why it’s important to foster innovation in your team, no matter what its function is. The following tips can help:
- Give employees permission to experiment. Employees often have ideas about new products or ways to improve existing processes, but they might not share them because they don’t want to rock the boat. Make it clear that you’re open to discussing innovations, and give employees permission to explore interesting ideas.
- Test new ideas to learn from them. In the Success article “10 Things Effective Leaders Do to Encourage Innovation,” Dr. Evans Baiya reminds us that most people test ideas to try or fail. If, on the other hand, you allow employees to test to learn and succeed, they’ll discover what works — and new solutions are more likely to follow.
- Analyze successes and failures. To determine what contributes to a viable innovation, analyze both successes and failures objectively in a team setting. By doing so, you get input from the whole team, and everybody can learn from the experiences.
- Encourage employees to spend time with PNLUs (people not like you). In his article “Learn the Ways Leaders Encourage Innovation” for The Balance Careers, Dan McCarthy reports that by interacting with people from different backgrounds, employees can learn to see things from a new perspective.
- Implement a rotating culture. Rotating teams, assignments, and desk arrangements makes employees step out of their comfort zones. This in turn can help spark creativity and innovation, as Seamas Egan advises in the Forbes article “15 Ways to Encourage Creative Idea Sharing From All Team Members.”
If you keep these tips in mind, you can encourage a culture of experimentation and innovation where employees feel supported, engaged, and valued — as well as excited to contribute to your company’s advancement. And over time, this can have huge payoffs in terms of professional success for you and your team while simultaneously improving your organization’s competitive positioning.