Innovation is a concept that is often accepted as vitally important for business without any understanding of what it is or why it is so important. Innovation is much more than coming up with new ideas. Although ideation can be a big part of it, innovation also refers to the process of finding new ways to do things, modifying business models, and adapting to changes in a way that results in better products and services. Successful innovation helps companies develop original concepts, solve problems, penetrate and develop markets faster, and gain an edge over the competition. However, pinpointing innovation as a worthwhile task within your organization is not always enough to maximize its benefits. Our previous blog 5 Things Most Innovative Companies Have in Common reveals that creating a culture of innovation in your business leads to more successful innovation. So, why is creating a culture of innovation important and how does it make a difference?
Raise the Bar
Innovative work cultures promote innovation as a regular part of how the company does business. Instead of just addressing and solving problems as they appear, the most successful companies focus on raising the bar. This means that innovation is built into the work instead of being a task, which creates continuous improvement regardless of directives. Keeping improvements to products, processes, and services constantly flowing helps stay ahead of problems and ahead of the competition. Trying to tackle innovation as needed or as problems arise can interrupt the regular work flow. Cultivating a culture of innovation raises the bar by expecting improvements to happen as a natural part of the work process whenever possible. Innovation is a skill that can be taught to anyone and applied systematically. Work cultures that promote a safe and open environment for innovation will motivate employees to learn and enhance this skill.
Leaders must drive the creation of a culture of innovation and act as a guide for other employees. Fostering innovation in a way that creates success for the entire business requires a plan and strong strategy. The right strategy makes a big impact on how your culture of innovation affects your business. There are a few particularly powerful strategies that can be combined.
- Focus on results – it is important for the workplace culture to clearly define their end goal and desired outcomes without micromanaging how the end result is achieved. Leaving teams accountable for how to achieve the desired results leaves more room for creativity and dynamic innovation. This aspect of the culture is important because it allows for a variety of perspectives to openly innovate in new ways without the hindrance of rigid structure.
- Challenge the status quo – successful cultures encourage employees to share ideas and criticisms regardless of company rank or role. There is a respectful way to challenge the business status quo that will drive further respect between colleagues and drive better innovation. Environments that foster open communication enjoy the benefits of higher employee engagement that increases productivity.
- Do not take the easy route – goals that are easy to achieve do not require innovative solutions. It is important to set company goals that are difficult to reach and then motivate team members to find creative ways to achieve them. Cultures that fuel this kind of creative change achieve the best results from solutions that may have never been thought of traditionally.
Creating a culture of innovation is important for finding better ways to innovate, increasing profits, increasing employee engagement, and the overall health of your business. Whether your company is new to making innovation a priority, you have had innovation initiatives in place for years, or you are somewhere in the stages of a transformation, there are ways to identify exactly where your organization is on its innovation journey. This understanding can make your strengths and weaknesses clearer and help you continue to foster a culture of innovation. For a quick Innovation Health checkup, click here. For more information on creating a culture of innovation, check out our Continuous Improvement Brochure here.