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9 Ways Your Company Can Encourage Innovation

Encourage research

Encourage your team to do their own research as well. 

Let your employees’ personal interests and passions do the leading as they look into new technologies, reading articles and writing reports for your company.

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9 Ways Your Company Can Encourage Innovation

9 Ways Your Company Can Encourage Innovation

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/318584

entrepreneur.com

10

Key Ideas

Innovation in business

The idea of innovation is taking off just as fast as the businesses that embrace it.

But, not all companies are prepared to push innovation within their organizations. Changing workplace systems and procedures requires resilience and flexibility, and it’s an unfortunate reality that many people are afraid of or continue to resist change.

Intrapreneurship

An intrapreneur can be defined as someone who thinks like an entrepreneur but brings their ideas to the company where they are employed instead of launching their own business. 

Instate a "no idea is a bad idea" policy, gather the support your employees need to try out their ideas and let them pitch decision-makers at your company.

McKnight’s 15-percent-time rule

This allows employees to spend 15 % of their paid work time daydreaming, doodling or experimenting with ideas that don’t necessarily have to do with their work at the company.

This kind of daydreaming is the genesis of invention and fosters passion for one’s work.

Reward experimentation - even failure

Beyond just giving your employees time to experiment, you should also reward innovative habits. 

Nothing kills creativity faster than the fear of failure, so celebrate the success as well as the failures.

Encourage research

Encourage your team to do their own research as well. 

Let your employees’ personal interests and passions do the leading as they look into new technologies, reading articles and writing reports for your company.

Employee forums

Whether it’s a weekly all-staff meeting or a company bulletin, foster a space where employees can meet across teams to discuss and present their research, experimentation or intrapreneurial ideas from their 15 % time.

Shake things up

Get your employees to think outside the box by assigning them new and exciting projects outside the scope of their daily activities.

Don’t put yourself in a box

Successfully innovative companies know that they are more than just their products and services.

Instead of only defining your company by what it sells, identify your assets and strategic skills.

Utilize vacation time

Studies show that certain activities that foster a truly unplugged environment, such as hiking in nature, can actually boost creativity by up to 50 %.

Encourage your employees to use all of their vacation time despite work pressures so that they come back to the office refreshed and full of new ideas.

Be a progressive leader

Innovation starts at the top -- leaders should be role models for workplace passion, positive outlook, clear direction and vision, and of course, embracing change.

Start small, with any one of the mentioned ideas, and slowly layer in more until your company is a pinnacle of creativity and innovation.

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Benefits of a learning culture

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When hiring, screen for learners
  • Ask about passion projects. Learners tend to pursue something else outside work (training for a marathon, playing with a band, etc.)
  • Focus on curiosity as much as hard skills. Bring up problems currently facing the team and see how the candidate responds.
  • One of the most important things to a learning mindset is the ability to admit you don't know something. So be aware of how they approach the things they don't understand.
Learning as a company policy

This means explicitly defining ongoing learning as a core company value.

Empowering employees can mean providing the time or money to enable learning - in other words, offering learning opportunities as a job benefit like health insurance. 

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Stepping outside the comfort zone

To take smart risks, you need to get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.

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Take an improv class

Every time you take a risk in your business, you face the possibility of failure.

Improv, a theatrical exercise where you improvise a scene with a group of people, essentially mirrors that experience. You have to get used to change fast.

Switch places with the receptionist

If you work behind a closed door, this will be a great exercise for stepping outside your safety zone.

You might have a less productive week, but seeing your workplace from a different perspective will foster an open mind and encourage collaboration.

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Introduce some greenery

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Show appreciation

Creating motivation and making your team feel appreciated is a critical part of long-term productivity.

Encourage your team to keep gratitude journals - writing down a couple of sentences about what you are currently grateful for a couple of times a week. This practice improves productivity by increasing happiness.

Create some privacy

If people can't focus on their work, they are less effective in areas like collaboration and learning, and they are less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Workplaces with a balance between individual focus and collaboration are more innovative, creative and encouraging.

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Demographics And Leadership Destiny

Millennials expect to be developed via opportunities, mentoring, and stretch assignments. However that is hard to come by in top-heavy companies. 

Most millennials think their roles provide little development while most companies report they have excellent or adequate programs for Millennials.

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Allowing Ideas To Safely Flourish

Take a moment to consider if your employees and team members are coming to you with new ideas and innovations.

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Increased Diversity

Companies with increased growth are 72% more likely to have high diversity in their organization.

Use Learning & Development (L&D) training to raise awareness about the current state of diversity and inclusion in your work environment.

Agility Breeds Sustainability

Up to 70% of trainees forget what they learn within 24 hours after training. However, it does not have to be the case for your employees.

An effective leader will implement and integrate an agile training infrastructure into their daily operations that can change quickly to keep up with the pace of innovation.

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The concept of servant leadership
The actual term for a leader who upends the power pyramid to put others' needs first was introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his influential 1970 essay "The Servant As Leader" in 1970.
The 6 main principles of servant leadership
  1. Empathy. Give trusted co-workers the benefit of the doubt by assuming the good in them. It goes a long way toward instilling loyalty and trust in you from your team.
  2. Awareness. Care deeply about the welfare of the team members. Don't view them only as cogs in a machine.
  3. Building community. Build community where both employees and customers can thrive.
  4. Persuasion. Rely on persuasion rather than coercion to create internal motivation required to complete the task effectively.
  5. Conceptualization. Servant-leading entrepreneurs focus on the big picture and don't get overly distracted by daily operations and short-term goals.
  6. Growth. Care passionately about the personal and professional growth of each member of the team.
Watch for signs of excitement

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Break away from job titles

To uncover your gifts, you need to explore new roles. Think of your company as a laboratory. Encourage flexible roles and see how it goes. 

Notice what you do differently

In a situation where you are truly using your strengths, you will stand out from a crowd. Your approach will be unique. 

To name your strengths, you want to identify those moments and articulate how you are different.

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Practice makes perfect

Whether you’re learning to play the saxophone or studying a foreign language, practice, or repetition, makes perfect.

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Spaced repetition

Spacing out the repetition, rather than cramming it into one session, is more effective. To use this learning technique:

  • Start by establishing a manageable study schedule. 
  • Choose a method for storing and organizing information. 
  • Don’t forget to test yourself periodically. Tracking your progress will boost your motivation to continue.
Take time for reflection

In addition to solidifying what we’ve already learned, reflection also helps spark new ideas. And it usually happens when you're not working.

Our most creative ideas don't come when we're consciously focused on the problem. but when we're interacting with people, gaining experiences and letting our minds make connections.

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It takes more than just passion

Make sure that you’re actually good at what you do. 

Ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the hard work and if there is a market for you to tap into. Even if it’s just t...

How can you make something better

Let’s say that your passion is playing the guitar. What void can you fill in that marketplace? For example, if you can repair guitars and realize that there isn’t a repair shop anywhere else around, that could be a business opportunity.

You also need to ask yourself how you can make the industry better.

Ways to monetize each passion

Think of all the various ways that you can actually make money off your passion. This may include:

  • Selling an actual product.
  • Sharing your knowledge about your passion by blogging, writing books or filming videos. 
  • Offering advice as a consultant in anything from accounting to gardening.
  • Becoming an investor in an idea that you’re willing to financially support.
  • Inventing a gadget or software that makes life easier for people. 
  • Building an event around your passion, such as a festival or community organization.

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