Innovation is a “do or die” aspect for most businesses. You either adapt, or you get left behind. Businesses that stay ahead of the competition or have efficient methods of keeping up with change end up as the leaders of their industry. In our previous blog on the 5 Ways to Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement, we discuss the benefits of supporting an innovative environment within the workplace. Luckily, no matter how big or how small your company is, innovation is a business skill that anyone can acquire and improve. So, what is it about a company that makes it innovative? When we look at some of the innovation giants like Google, Apple, or Amazon, it appears that all these companies have similar traits. In this article, we explore the 5 things most innovative companies have in common.

#1 Establish Company-Wide Beliefs

One of the first things that every company should do is make sure everyone is on the same page. Establishing company-wide beliefs is a great way to accomplish this. Part of defining these beliefs is clearly outlining a definition of innovation that meets the organization’s mission and goals. It is helpful to think of innovation as something to be managed and not just something to throw money at. When everyone in the company has a clear understanding of what innovation means for the business, it is easier to make innovation a regular part of every process instead of a big task to be tackled.

#2 Regularly Create New Ideas

Every company starts with a new idea, but successful companies require the continuous generation of new ideas. The most innovative companies adopt a five step approach to ideation, and each step has its own unique process. These steps are brainstorming ideas, deciding which ideas to implement, developing the process based on feedback, doing market research before investing in production, and measuring success. Technology now provides solutions that allow you to more easily manage all of the innovation activities involved in the generation of new ideas. However, the most important step is seeing your good ideas through to the end.

#3 Empower Team Collaboration

The most innovative companies encourage collaboration between employees and divisions. Likewise, they support the open communication of ideas and feedback. You can help facilitate the sharing of ideas by organizing brainstorming sessions or rewarding teamwork. Once goals are set, it is important to provide the appointed teams with the resources they need to be autonomous. We take a closer look at how agile methodology creates stronger teams focused on innovation in our blog What is Agile Methodology? Trusting your employees to learn from their successes and failures will drive innovation. Teams that are allowed to manage themselves often discover improved processes and new ideas.

#4 Encourage and Reward Employees

Creating an environment that supports open communication is not always enough to motivate employees to share ideas. Innovation should be encouraged and exciting in order to get the best results from your workforce. First of all, the fear of failure or possible punishment will immediately turn off most employees from contributing. So, it is important that the company does not emphasize the risk of failure but instead the rewards of the learning process. Creating a workplace culture where innovation is celebrated by everyone and people are recognized for their work highly encourages participation. Improving a work process is a win for that team and their time, not just a success for the company.

#5 Create Customer-Centric Processes

Successful ideas are products and services that your customers want to buy, so it only makes sense to involve them in your innovation process. Analyzing consumer needs helps you focus on useful solutions. However, having real conversations with real people about your products will improve your ideas and make customers feel like a valued part of your business. Listen to their concerns and involve them in the development process by asking for feedback. Extend the open communication policy you should be encouraging within your company to those outside of your company. After all, customer satisfaction is key to the success of any business.

All of the things most innovative companies have in common can be adopted by any business of any size. To get more out of what your company is already doing or to discover what’s next and how to continue improving, you can schedule a free consultation with Planbox today.