50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation (Part 1)
As your organization continues rebounding from the financial meltdown, here are 50 ways to ensure that it becomes increasingly conducive to ongoing innovation. Commit to a few of these today and make some magic. Your next step?
- 1. Remember that innovation requires no fixed rules or templates — only guiding principles. Creating a more innovative culture is an organic and creative act.
- 2. Wherever you can, whenever you can, always drive fear out of the workplace. Fear is “Public Enemy #1″ of an innovative culture.
- 3. Have more fun. If you’re not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) something is off.
- 4. Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.
- 5. Make new mistakes.
- 6. As far as the future is concerned, don’t speculate on what might happen, but imagine what you can make happen.
- 7. Increase the visual stimuli of your organization’s physical space. Replace gray and white walls with color. Add inspiring photos and art, especially visuals that inspire people to think differently. Reconfigure space whenever possible.
- 8. Help people broaden their perspective by creating diverse teams and rotating employees into new projects — especially ones they are fascinated by.
- 9. Ask questions about everything. After asking questions, ask different questions. After asking different questions, ask them in a different way.
- 10. Ensure a high level of personal freedom and trust. Provide more time for people to pursue new ideas and innovations.
- 11. Encourage everyone to communicate. Provide user-friendly systems to make this happen.
- 12. Instead of seeing creativity training as a way to pour knowledge into people’s heads, see it as a way to grind new glasses for people so they can see the world in a different way.
- 13. Learn to tolerate ambiguity and cope with soft data. It is impossible to get all the facts about anything. “Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted counts,” said Einstein.
- 14. Embrace and celebrate failure. 50 to 70 per cent of all new product innovations fail at even the most successful companies. The main difference between companies who succeed at innovation and those who don’t isn’t their rate of success — it’s the fact that successful companies have a LOT of ideas, pilots, and product innovations in the pipeline.
- 15. Notice innovation efforts. Nurture them wherever they crop up. Reward them.
- 16. When you’re promoting innovation in-house, always promote the benefits of a new idea or project, not the features.
- 17. Don’t focus so much on taking risks, per se, but on taking the risks OUT of big and bold ideas.
- 18. Encourage people to get out of their offices and silos. Encourage people to meet informally, one-on-one, and in small groups.
- 19. Think long term. Since the average successful “spin-off” takes about 7.5 years, the commitment to innovation initiatives need to be well beyond “next quarter.”
- 20. Create a portfolio of opportunities: short-term, long-term, incremental, and discontinuous. Just like an investment portfolio, balance is critical.
- 21. Involve as many people as you can in the development of your innovation initiative so you get upfront buy-in. This is the “go-slow now to go-fast later” approach.
- 22. Improve the way brainstorming sessions and meetings are facilitated in your organization. Create higher standards and practices.
- 23. Make sure people are working on the right issues. Identify specific business challenges to focus on. Be able to frame these issues as questions that start with the words, “How can we?”
- 24. Communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate and then communicate again. Deliver each important message at least six times.
- 25. Select and install idea management software for your intranet. (Or, if you’ve got an intranet and certain directories available to everyone, set up your own idea depository/database and make it as interactive as you want).
Part 2 with the second 25 ways to foster a culture of innovation will be posted next week.
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