Innovation is without doubt still one of the “buzzwords” in business. How can leaders, who are targeted on sales, profits and overall performance, achieve the numbers required, at the same time as nurturing innovation? Whilst it isn’t a leader’s role to come up with all of the ideas, infact far from it, it is a leader’s role to create a culture that allows new ideas to be created and nurtured.
Here are out top 5 tips to help leaders nurture more innovation…
1. Define It
What does innovation mean to your business? Just as your vision and values should be unique, what is your personal definition of innovation? What are the obstacles that you face that stop you from creating innovation? Your starting point has to be to answer these 2 questions, to take innovation from a “buzz word” to an executable strategy.
2. Have the right Conversations
Are you activating conversations that open up your team’s ability to innovate? Do you encourage trust and an openness to not be afraid of the unknown and of making mistakes that you can learn from? What resonates with your team and what does not? It should be why not rather than why.
3. Embrace Exploration
How often do you hear the words “that’s the way it’s always been done.” A natural enemy to innovation. Are you encouraging curiosity within your team and the ability to learn from customers, suppliers and competitors? Are you and your teams getting out of your regular surroundings on a regular basis? If you have answered no, you are probably not creating a culture where new ideas will flourish. Different perspectives create divergent thinking. Divergent thinking creates game-changing ideas.
4. Champion Experimentation
Encourage your team to test new ideas quickly and recognise their efforts and the learnings, even if the result isn’t what you are looking for. Embrace mistakes rather than create a culture of fear around mistakes, which will inhibit your team’s ability to innovate. Reward your team for challenging the status quo.
5. Create a culture of teamwork & inclusivity
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Spot on words from the US President Harry Truman.
Heavily top-down, command-and control cultures or silos can kill any buds of innovative thought. A new perspective can emerge at any level of a business. Encourage a culture that rewards suggestions and feedback. Seek the views of your internal and external stakeholders. Fundamental to remaining relevant and competitive in today’s fast-changing world.