People talk about building a culture of innovation, but rarely do anything about it.
Here are six simple ways which will help move the needle and create a culture of innovation.
1. Introduce Rewards and Recognition for Innovation.
Not for day-to-day work achievements, but for innovation and innovative ideas. Institute rewards such as a $100 voucher to a restaurant of choice for an innovation – ideally one that was implemented.
At company/business-unit meetings, have the most senior person call out the winner, shake their hand, announce the innovation and present them with the prize.
Cost to the organisation? Almost nothing. Impact? Huge.
2. Change the environment.
Have the team bring in awards, photos of their childhood, anything personal.
Buy some quirky furniture.
Make the environment fun, upbeat, and different.
Bring people together to discuss how they can make the environment they work in different, radical, and one that makes a statement!
3. Give people time.
Have people carve out a few hours a week to work on whatever problem they like.
Yes, it should somehow be business related but give people permission to turn their brain away from the everyday to something they feel passionate about.
You will be amazed at what emerges!
4. Encourage ALL ideas.
Too often “yes but…” just rolls off our tongue.
“Yes, but we have no budget”. “Yes, but we tried that last year”. “Yes, but we have no time”. “Yes, but could you please go away and prepare a major business case supported by full cash flows PLUS 10 PowerPoint decks”.
Change the “yes, but” to “yes, and….”. F
or example, “Yes that’s an interesting ideas, and how about we have a coffee to discuss”…. Will make the world of difference. We promise.
5. Champion failure.
When people fail, congratulate them. Commend them for taking the risk. Laud them for being empowered to get on with it, rather than waiting around.
Encourage people to build Minimal Viable Products and test them, rather than waiting months and months and produce nothing.
6. Change the language. Encourage people to use a different language: pivot, MVP, customer-centric, get out of the building, innovation accounting, hypothesis, build-measure-learn, empathy.
It is amazing how much behavior will change once the language changes!
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