An innovative mindset is essential for success. Without one, a business could fall behind and fail to stand out with consumers and other companies. Amidst trends and movements, all businesses should strive to keep up and present new, reliable ideas, products, and services that serve a purpose.
To get the best innovation from your company, you can look inwards to the employees and outwards to your current customers. It takes time, effort, and a collaborative approach to innovate.
Throughout each step, you’ll want to keep an open mind and ensure that, no matter what, everyone has the tools they need to keep creating.
1. Make space for innovation
The first step is to take a step back. Ideas come from various sources, whether it’s the employees or the CEO of a company. Thus, you’ll need to open up space for everyone to participate in brainstorming and creating. They should have the resources and support system they need to do so.
As you reevaluate the dynamics in the workplace, consider what could be missing. If certain employees are doing the bare minimum, it’s time to change their schedules or responsibilities. You can build in a set period of time to work independently to brainstorm ideas for the company.
Notably, Google created the idea of a 20-per cent rule, where employees have a set period of time where they can explore, learn, experiment, and innovate on their own. For some companies, 20% won’t be practical, so you can reduce that time if necessary.
However, for an innovation-driven focus, it’s imperative that all workers have time to focus on success for the company’s future.
During this time, you could encourage meetings and collaboration as well. Employees could grab coffees or host Zoom meetings, and go on walks. Getting the creative ideas flowing in a healthy headspace is critical.
2. Engage employees in new ways
Companies with more employee engagement can become 22% more profitable than businesses where employees fall behind. Employee engagement can take a dip if the environment is detrimental to them. If they don’t have the resources, benefits, and tools they require to thrive, their best will look subpar.
It’s essential that managers and executives take accountability and engage employees in more creative ways and foster innovative mindsets. You can do so in many ways, starting with rewarding innovative progress and changing company dynamics.
First, you can offer bonuses or other incentives to employees who come up with new ideas for the company. These innovations don’t need to be fully formed or implemented right away. However, this kind of reward system encourages more of the same behavior. Employees will seek to create and flourish once they have the time, resources, and motivation.
Then, you can change the way employees interact with the business itself. In traditional models, shareholders or executives own the business. In newer, more innovative dynamics, though, employees can now own parts of the company as well through shares that accrue over time.
This relationship encourages them to focus on the success of the company and engage in more creative ideas.
3. Embrace technology
Technology is one of the best signs of innovation. It combines practicality, accessibility, and functionality, which helps it constantly evolve. Something like a smartphone builds on countless previous innovations and uses them to keep creating. The same concept applies to the workplace.
Keep in mind that integrating technology can be easy and affordable. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have adapted to using websites and apps for e-commerce. In April 2020, mobile orders and curbside pickup increased by 208%, a number that has become a norm in today’s retail landscape.
You can also opt for more tech integrations with robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), or augmented reality (AR). You can use robots to assist customers, AI to gather data, and AR to provide a new way to shop with a smartphone.
For instance, using the Ikea app, consumers can virtually place furniture in their home, changing the size and colors before making a purchase.
4. Act on feedback
Communication is a necessity. It’s what companies need to evolve and innovate. Primarily, feedback helps people improve in any position. While a manager can suggest ways in which an employee can improve, that employee can also provide feedback on what would help them thrive. It’s critical to listen to what they say.
Apart from internal communication, you can also look to outside sources for feedback. Your business partners and suppliers may have suggestions or ideas that could foster innovation for the entire team. Working together will bring about the best success.
Finally, you should look to clients and customers for feedback as well. Consumers are the ones who use the products and services daily. They may have innovative ideas for what direction your products should go in. You can collect this information through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
5. Think outside the box
Innovation requires unique thinking, which is why it’s a team effort. Finding the most creative way to succeed will require everyone to think outside the box, building off each other’s ideas.
During this process, you should keep an open mind. Not every idea will sound groundbreaking at first, and others will require more work. Through it all, it’s essential to see the potential of each innovation.
Also, some ideas and plans will fail. Remember that failure is okay. It can even be a good thing in some circumstances. If an innovation falls through, the company can figure out what went wrong and rebuild with a more foolproof plan.
For instance, Apple almost folded in 1985 but came back stronger than ever to become what it is today. Failure can lead to more tangible, reliable success.
Creative thinking will ultimately lead to a breakthrough. The workplace should overcome any obstacles as a whole. Together, innovative mindsets can become more resilient and progressive than ever.
Each of these five steps is powerful on its own. Together, though, you can completely transform the trajectory of your business. With consistent collaboration and communication, you’ll be able to establish an innovative mindset as one of the core values and goals of your company.