Companies can do this by creating a culture built on innovation. One where all employees are encouraged to think outside the box, to challenge the status quo and to answer the questions that have not yet been asked. So, how does one not only encourage innovation, but engrain it so deep into a company’s DNA, that it runs through every employee’s blood?
You can think about innovation in a company like we think about evolution. In an organism’s genetic makeup, mutations can occur that deliver radical changes in its biology. All mutations are random and most are deleterious. Occasionally, these changes deliver a disruptive benefit being favoured in the right environmental conditions. We call this disruption survival of the fittest.
In similar way, change is beneficial – especially for a company. Departing from the norm is a powerful way to move forward in an evolutionary sense and it’s much the same in business. These ‘mutations’ can provide companies with opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed. These are the times to capitalise on unseen resources, to occupy niche markets and to thrive with no competition. This is when a new species is born, and when a company is innovative.
The preference is for a species, not the individual. So, it’s something that must be bred within the organisation as a whole, not just those at a managerial level and higher. The core of evolution is in biological disruption, so why can’t that be the case with in business too?
So, to make innovation the gene in your organisation:
Ask the questions that might seem silly and even stupid. Challenge the status quo for the hell of it and see what happens. Always encourage everyone to begin with ‘What if?’
CHALLENGE YOURSELF AND YOUR PEOPLE
It’s important to consistently be challenged. Disrupt and make the workplace dynamic. Don’t settle for answers like ‘that’s how we’ve always done it,’ but make change the norm and embrace debates.
TURN FAILURES INTO OPPORTUNITY
In fact, failure almost always is opportunity that is brilliantly disguised. Failure isn’t a state, but a part of a the process. Learn from your failures; learn hard and fast.
TRUST YOUR EMPLOYEES
Trust is the glue in an innovative culture. Your people need to feel safe to think outside the box, and trust the structure, the leaders and their colleagues.
COLLABORATE AND COMMUNICATE
Don’t try and go at it alone. A new species isn’t created from one person alone. Share ideas and encourage others to contribute and collaborate on the idea. The more the better. These are the tools that will get you there.
The power of networking will lead you to unexpected connections that can spur on ideas. Thought leaders and industry professionals can prompt you to do in a direction that you’ve not yet thought about. In today’s interconnected world, social media, blog posts and research are all available to continue spreading our knowledge. Connecting and reaching out has never been so easy.
Make innovation built into your values. If it’s not a company goal, turn it into your team goal. Make innovation a ‘business as usual’ value. Recruit for it and reward for it. As Jack Mas said, “Don’t hire the most qualified, hire the craziest.”
LIVE, BREATHE AND BELIEVE IN IT
A top down approach means that when you live, breathe and believe in innovation, chances are it will become infectious. Inject it into your all and your people will soon believe in it too.
The employment landscape as we know it now, is not only exciting but it’s brutal. We’re in an age where it’s innovate or die. It’s time to start innovating.