Your company can have an innovation day any time of the year you want with these tips.

Many companies launch innovative programs shortly after annual planning or on days that are set aside to recognize the initiative, such as Innovation Day. An innovation day is most often a 24-hour event where employees form teams to problem solve relevant issues. These teams are then able to present their ideas to the business with a strong case and working prototype. Below are some pointers so you can make the most of your next (or first) innovation day.

Put a Lot of Stock in Your Staff

Traditionally, new ideas come from the top down within a business, but this method often can slow the best ideas from coming (or stop them altogether). Sometimes the best ideas come from those who work hands on in the business, rather than “on” it on a daily basis. These people are up close and personal with the company’s problems that colleagues and customers deal with on a regular basis. Furthermore, high-up decision makers are sometimes paralyzed from generating great ideas because they are consumed with running the business while staff members have more ability to think freely, without being weighed down by the constraints of a new idea. Your staff will do you a lot of good on innovation day.

Planning Innovation Day

There needs to be some structure in place so everyone knows what is expected of them on Innovation Day – but that does not mean that there will not be any room for creativity or fun! Break staff into teams, assigning them problems to solve (or the same problem to multiple teams). Structure breaks in time for your team to be able to relax as it has been proven that creativity will flourish when people are able to relax and play. Unstructured free time has a tendency to activate our brain’s innovative areas, bringing out new ideas. At the end of the day, plan short presentations for the judges to hear. Set up rewards such as “highest cost savings” or “most creative” to reward all teams for their efforts.

If You Can’t Justify a Whole Day

You can still set aside a day for innovation without taking an entire 24-hours out of the usual working period. You can try an “innovation sprint” instead where staff post ideas and problems they want to solve for a period before the “Innovation Day” then individuals can choose ideas they want to solve and can brainstorm ideas and develop solutions. The sprint can be limited to a normal 8-hour day or a segment of that day instead.  Innovation Sprints can also help empower staff while creating new initiatives for your company’s brand.

Getting the Idea Out, Then Perfecting it

Many companies find a need to spend time refining a prototype before launching, but agile methodology finds that getting a version out as soon as possible before focusing on all of the details can be a benefit to your company. It enables you bring your customers into the innovation process, testing your idea with actual users so you can then refine and improve on the issue.