Do you have any idea about how to encourage innovation in the workplace? This five-step process will help your company empower employees to generate and execute innovative ideas.
Businesses that innovate become more efficient in their internal processes, more likely to manufacture products that consumers love, and are increasingly attractive to potential employees.
5 Ways to Encourage Innovation
Business innovation can involve creating a new product, or it could be streamlining existing processes. Whatever the innovation, the end goal is to drive company growth by coming up with better solutions to specific problems.
Step 1: Identify the Issues to Work on
Business leaders should sit down and come up with a list of three challenges they feel are core to the business.
The issue may be at the industry level. Take, for example, the rise of fintech startups in traditional finance. Leaders within legacy banks could see the trend as an opportunity for them to create new digital products to better serve their customers. Or, organizations may look to improve how they conduct business, which involves looking closely at the manufacturing process, the employee experience, or the customer experience.
Managers and business leaders should:
- Sit down and list major issues impacting daily business.
- Prioritize a few challenges to tackle first.
- Create a criteria or framework for judging and implementing a feasible solution to this problem.
Step 2: Engage Employees
Employees are the ones making the products and talking to customers. It is important to include their insight in any attempt at innovation.
Companies can do this through programs that allow employees to surface ideas about how to solve problems identified. These programs may be hackathons or company-wide employee innovation challenges.
The key is to engage the entire company and allow those from all departments to submit ideas. It’s important, also, to do this through a distinct program separate from employees’ day-to-day work because that allows employees to get out of the traditional corporate feedback loop.
Step 3: Brainstorm Ideas for Innovation
Once a framework or program is set up, employees start ideating. Drawing upon their own experiences, they should ideate potential solutions to the problems the company has identified.
There are many ways to encourage a positive brainstorming session, including through physical space. Allow groups of people to come together and discuss ideas in a private, quiet space. The company leaders will then judge the ideas produced.
Step 4: Judge the Ideas
Once all employee ideas are collected, it’s time for business leaders to sift through them. They should separate the ideas that could feasibly be implemented and provide value to the company, and those that couldn’t.
Company leaders will judge the ideas against the predetermined criteria they set with stakeholders. This is when the most interesting ideas for innovation are identified.
Step 5: Empower Ideas to Be Executed
The employees with the best ideas should be connected to those in the company who can help them implement these ideas internally. They should be encouraged to work with business line leaders to brainstorm on business integration.
Innovation in the workplace may sometimes feel like a wide-open topic. But there are tried-and-true steps an organization can take as long as they commit to the idea that innovation in the workplace is imperative for them to thrive.