Many people think of being innovative, but many rush into the process without the proper foundations. How can you ensure that you start off on the right foot?
We’ve put together some tips:
- How can you improve what you have now?
Brian Halligan of HubSpot says that a lot of company cultures are stuck in the past. Their traditional “best practices” no longer work and are obviously not the best by today’s standards. With this in mind, think about the corporate culture that you have in place. To build a culture of innovation, you can’t just add in innovative methodology, you also must look at what you have to take away.
Does your company culture rely on micro managers or control freaks? That might reduce fresh ideas during meetings or group discussions. What about a rigid top-down approach? Hierarchical cultures typically ignore those at the bottom. Unlike an open horizontal culture, a stiff top-down organization is likely to ignore feedback, which may lead to a creative or innovative solution.
Open innovation, more importantly, is often a casualty of the narrow “profit and efficiency” thinking. The lesson here is deceptively simple: start with people. Encourage them to be creative and empower them further with a workplace that welcomes and nurtures innovative solutions and ideas.
- What does Innovation mean to your company?
There is no copy-and-paste solution for innovation, no blueprint that can be scaled up and down depending on company size; there is, however, a right way to go about it. The first step is to work out what your company’s definition of innovation is. Different companies have different ways of looking at innovation. BMW, for example, might see innovation as gearing up to making the highest quality car on the market, and how to save money while maintaining profit margins and product consistency. Apple post-2012, however, might be looking to extend the product lifecycle of current successes, and push for markets they’re already successful in. Just from these examples we can see huge differences. So, what’s your goal? It’s all well and good to be a part of an innovative company, but what will achieving this going to get you? Honesty and clarity are important when conveying your message.
- Use Technology To Boost Internal Communication and Collaboration
A culture of open innovation heavily relies on technology to facilitate and speed up communication and collaboration, and goes beyond a mere email network. Technology accommodates more than just message sending and receiving. Here are some ways to make the most of it:
• Encourage employees to share and discuss ideas in a forum or group. A forum is one of the older yet most effective tools when it comes to attracting active participants in a discussion.
• Make it easy for employees to share files and work together on a project or experiment. Make use of file-sharing applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Editorially and Quip are two other sophisticated applications specifically designed for collaborative writing and editing.
• Encourage employees to build an internal information bank and share knowledge with the help of wikis. A wiki, which is the same technology that fuels Wikipedia, allows users to create new pages or documents and link them to related material. It’s a powerful research tool that can save employees hundreds of hours each year. What’s more, wikis are one of the best ways to circulate new ideas and keep employees up-to-date.
• Use internal collaboration tools to help employees achieve their targets. Make it easy for specific users to access a document or material needed to move the project forward. More importantly, make it easy for everyone to discuss a project without having to open multiple browser tabs and software.