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Innovation is key to business success, but it should not be the responsibility of a particular individual or group. Every team member has the potential to become an entrepreneur, after all, and it’s up to employers to support that ambition. The payoff from this startup mindset will almost inevitably be new products and services that increase revenue, and can disrupt an entire industry, as well as an improved company culture.
This requires, however, presenting Void And a time to innovate for teams and individuals, along with an environment in which they are free to fail and succeed. Here are four ways businesses can create:
1. Employing lifelong learners
A culture of invention begins with the hiring process. Organizations should look to hire individuals who not only excel in skills that will directly impact their success in a given role, but who also have an inherent desire to learn and grow. So, ask questions that go beyond the usual, such as, “What have you learned lately that is outside your day-to-day work?” or “What’s your favorite podcast?” These give insight into their level of curiosity and drive to absorb new information, and can help you understand what they are passionate about beyond what they do professionally.
2. Encourage the exchange of new ideas
Team members need a platform to share ideas with the broader organization, or else they will keep potentially valuable contributions to themselves. And even if the idea presented isn’t the ‘idea’, it can still start a quest for another idea.
Business leaders can encourage a regular flow of insights through weekly brainstorming, an ongoing email thread, or even a Slack channel. And while some employees may be eager to share it with a larger group, others may respond better to meeting singles, so it is important to cater to what works for each individual. For example, at my company, we created The Innovation Fund and Lab, which allows in-house inventors to experiment, to develop ideas beyond our core products, without having to generate immediate revenue.
Related: 4 ways you can create a culture of ownership
3. Create a workplace that loves people
Where people work in an environment free of judgment or fear is where innovation thrives. One way to create this is to build connections between employees through activities in and out of the office, such as eating together or playing a game of pool. These moments can also happen remotely with happy hours and virtual game nights. Another way to build connections is to incorporate personal conversations into meetings. At the beginning of one, each team member could, for example, share a personal note with the team, which could be about their weekend plans, or simply that they cooked a new meal for dinner.
Another part of creating a place where people love to work is making sure employees are recognized when they do a good job. Not only will they feel appreciated, but they will gain confidence in their role, which will inspire them to work (and innovate) more seriously.
4. Provide innovation independence
Invention is often born from giving people the freedom to reach a goal themselves; When they are given a problem with little or no guidance on how to solve it, I’ve found that they come up with creative solutions. And what they discover along the way may inspire new processes or products.
Company-led events such as the hackathon also provide employees with an opportunity to drive progress and innovation, either by themselves or with a team. Even if it turns out that this is a good time for them to focus on their emotional projects, it may also prompt them to think creatively about ways to deal with internal problems, which turns into a company-focused innovation.
Related: If you want more enduring creativity in your team, you need to rethink your approach