In our fast-moving world, it seems like companies have no choice but to be innovative. Everyone is searching for a way to stand out amongst the noise, crush their competitors, and drive revenue higher as business costs climb.
Being an innovation-forward business may not be as technical as it sounds. Rather, this begins with leadership, feedback and processes. Use these ideas to become an innovation-forward business and take the first steps toward being the best in your industry.
Becoming an innovation-forward business will require you to take risks. It’s the job of leadership to not only encourage employees to take those risks but to be prepared for the mistakes that will be made along the way.
“You are going to find yourself in difficult situations, you are going to fail, you are not always going to be first—how you bounce back from these situations will define who you are and the level of success that you can reach. Learn from every situation, but don’t take too long or someone else will pass by you,” suggests Kevin Sealey, VP of Operations for EPOCH.
This needs to be the leadership mentality. Not only must you be prepared for those risks, but it’s critical that you develop a culture of reflection within the company, allowing you to quickly and efficiently identify what went wrong and how to correct course.
Bring it to your company:
Encourage “failing loudly,” a term referenced by David Isaac Murray, member of the Forbes Technology Council. He says, “The best way to encourage loud failure is to create an environment with arguably the most important team dynamic of psychological safety. This includes providing ample opportunities for employees to speak up and feel safe speaking their minds.” How do you do this? Murray suggests getting and giving regular feedback with tools like happiness surveys and management reviews.
An agile business is one that’s not only focused on innovating, but on moving quickly and efficiently as an organization. In What Does Agile Performance Mean?, this approach is broken down into seven tenants that every business can follow as a framework for being an innovation-forward business:
1. Innovation: Constantly experimenting with new features and ideas so you can be the first—or best—in the marketplace.
2. Processing: Sharing information quickly within the organization; ideally faster than your competitors.
3. Recovery: Improving the time it takes to manage a customer mistake. “Apart from doing the right thing, holding onto an aggrieved customer and not losing them to a rival business, is the objective when it comes to recovering from a mistake.”
4. Continuous improvement: Building on something that already exists, like a current product or service offering.
5. Customer responsiveness: Agility is a customer-driven concept; keeping customers and bringing in new ones with a better or newer product is critical. Being responsive is necessary to attain retention.
6. Problem-solving: More specifically, creative problem-solving and using it regularly.
7. Changing direction: “The agility to change direction is a culmination of the other six agile performance dimensions.” I.E., to innovate is to change direction; problem-solving is often about thinking outside the box—and therefore, changing direction.
Bring it to your company:
Develop or update your company mission with the agile approach in mind. Make this a part of the way the company functions, from customer service to company-wide sharing, to bring innovation to the forefront of everything that’s done within your business.
It’s easy to micromanage employees—and then make sure that they do whatever they’ve been tasked with. It’s harder to let go of control and give them the freedom and autonomy to decide how to do their job, based on the strengths you hired them for. It’s even harder to understand that some of the best, most innovative ideas, come from employees. Did you know the idea of a Post-It Note came from a 3M employee?
To be an innovation-forward business, you have to be open to the ideas of employees. More than that, you need to encourage regular feedback and brain sharing between employees and management. Jason Albanese, Co-Founder and CEO of Centric Digital, suggests a few ways to make this possible:
Provide a safe space for employees to share ideas and feedback.
Ingrain innovative thinking into the company culture.
Eliminate roadblocks, like office politics.
Find balance—coming up with innovative ideas is important, but so is running the business.
Bring it to your company:
Consider initiatives like an Intrapreneur Program, or Google’s 20% project, giving employees time at work to develop innovative ideas that could move the company forward. With a similar structure in place, you find that balance between creating and innovating and staying focused on what the company needs here and now.
Become an Innovation-Forward Business
If you’re thinking about how to make your company more innovative, you’ve already taken the first step. Now it’s time to put that idea into play and see how you can make it work within your organization. Use these ideas to fuel the innovative fire burning within your team and build a company everyone can be proud of.
Do you want to increase innovation and team collaboration in a sustainable way? Read more about our happiness model: