How do we encourage innovation?
Many executives ask themselves, “How do we encourage innovation in our organization?” Well, innovation begins with the executive team. As leaders of the organization, it is the executive team’s responsibility to create an environment where innovation is encouraged and rewarded, whether the idea was a success or a failure. As a leader, do you ask your employees for new ideas? If you do, what is your process for asking? Do you have a process that rewards your employees for new ideas, and do you encourage innovation?
Having a process in place that is open to ideas creates a culture for innovation.
Employees need to know that executives want their input. Many employees don’t
share ideas with management out of fear ... fear of what management will think, fear the idea will be perceived as a bad idea, and fear of overstepping their boundaries. The culture you create needs to erase this fear. You can do this by creating an open door policy with the mantra of “no idea is a bad idea.” In fact, many organizations set up monthly brainstorming meetings where each employee brings two to three new innovative ideas.
This next piece is critical. Your employees need to see that their hard work does make a difference. If the executive team does not take the ideas seriously and begin to implement them, employees will view this as nothing more than lip service.
Keep in mind … fear is a pretty intense emotion and will stifle innovation. If your organization typically searches for the ‘guilty,’ you actually limit or eliminate any chances for innovation. When a mistake occurs, it’s best to determine the root cause, learn from the mistake, and move forward. Innovative organizations view mistakes as learning opportunities. So the important question to pose is how does your organization view mistakes?