Fostering an innovative culture begins with a mindset – an attitude and purpose that encourages a spirit of innovation – from entry-level to the C-suite. Utilizing these three strategies will ensure both creating and building on that mindset.
- Weighing in on one side of the scales is management procedures; on the other, employee empowerment.
When you put together that cabinet you ordered from Ikea, or the baby stroller you bought for a Christmas present, they came with specific parts and a set of instructions. If you’re missing pieces or ignore the directions, you’ve got trouble. Likewise, each project, product order, service, etc., that you offer requires a specific plan, and procedure to follow. These procedures must be communicated, with checkpoints and reporting lines established.
On the flip side, too much control can create roadblocks for employee innovation. Equally important as policies and procedures is empowerment –giving your employees the authority that coincides with their responsibility and trusting/encouraging them with the freedom to “go wild.” That’s the breeding ground for innovation.
- Well, actually, getting rid of it.
Bureaucracy and innovation can’t dance together without stepping on toes. When new ideas have to jump through hoops, clear committees, and wait months for approval, they curl up and die. Enthusiasm runs dry, and that creative player is soon looking for a new job with a new company that will fuel his/her innovative spirit.
- Yes, a willingness to be ‘busted.’
Innovation, by its very nature, involves risk –and acceptance of growing pains. Failure is going to happen. The key is to view a failed idea from a positive perspective. What worked well? What caused the glitch? How can we learn from this for future explorations? Remember Thomas Edison? He wisely pointed out that “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” Companies that are not afraid of a little risk become a hotbed of innovation.