“…Innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement, and progress” – Ted Levitt
This is an era of digital disruption. The business environment is in constant flux. Emerging technologies, customer empowerment, and a global workplace all impact the business environment and shift the goalposts almost daily. What then can guarantee a sure-shot success? Innovation, of course. However, a long-run at success can be guaranteed by establishing a ‘culture of innovation’. This entails orienting the ‘attitude’ in favor of innovation. A positive attitude toward innovation is the forebearer of unlimited potential.
New business streams, new products, optimal utilization of resources, employee satisfaction may all be woven by this single thread. As we begin on the journey to unlock how we foster an innovative working environment, we realize that there is no sure shot way or strategy of inculcating innovation at the workplace. However, one overarching factor – the level of end-user engagement may help in ratifying whether the initiatives are indeed fostering the culture of innovation
Catalyzing innovation with right workplace culture
By making innovation a way of life at your workplace, you can actually leverage the diverse workforce in an inclusive pursuit of creativity by discovering bright minds and pruning their talent to become prodigies in the organizational processes. Moreover, by encouraging cross-functional idea generation and converting your employees into change makers, it is possible to find disruptive solutions for any process demanding improvisation or any challenge obstructing optimal output.
Empower your employees to believe that they can contribute to the progress of the company. Organizations should, therefore, provide platforms that encourage employees to put forth new approaches, methods, and algorithms to solve a problem in a simple but effective manner. Innovation is certainly a top-down approach that flows radically. Leaders and upper management being the most influencing factor – both at macro (organization level) and micro (personal) level, should encourage meaningful dialogues, embrace challenges as opportunities, provide freedom and not stifle the processes with interference, recognize successful attempts and go beyond awards to encourage to convey key values of innovation. All in all, there shouldn’t be any hindrance in terms of hierarchy/designations for employees to share their voice and making futuristic contributions to the business strategy. Essentially, a culture of openness and transparency is the way when organizations foster innovation in the best manner. Effective communication gets everyone to be on the same page; moving in the same direction towards the same goal.
It is also imperative to have a definitive reward and recognition structure in place to identify and recognize the innovative individuals. This goes a long way in motivating them and gratifying the workforce. Welcoming a new idea only doesn’t achieve its desired goal of sieving in the culture of innovation. It is as important to invest in them and keep track of its success, of course in sync with the business goals. Further, a pipeline of innovative ideas can be created to help strategize the company goals effectively.
Technology – A key enabler!
Technology aids in providing innovative minds a ‘right boost’ to solve complex business situations more effectively. For instance, Cloud and Mobile technologies drive innovation by helping the employees collaborate with the teams and brainstorm great ideas. Innovation around new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence such as Machine Learning, Data Analytics, and Business Intelligence help the organization in building new business models, service offerings, revenue streams, and internal procedures quite successfully by leveraging the existing assets in a whole new exciting and profitable ways. This ultimately leads to the overall sustainability of the business as per changing industry dynamics.
Hurdles for innovation
Cultivating innovation in a company should be a critical and consistent organizational initiative. Despite that, many organizations face challenges which act as a barrier in the process. The mental blocks that leaders might have could be - resistance to change, lack of right skills to take the change positively (which requires upskilling as far as technology is concerned), lack of insights and experience on the ideas which refrains them to have a comprehensive view of the idea and the situation at hand to name a few. The hurdles are more at the enablement level where the organization must set clear the objective of innovation and generally faces grunt resulting from the difference of opinion at a leadership level. As a result, employees do not feel empowered to take risks or implement new ideas.
Also, the organization should understand that rewarding innovation should not be limited by an award show at the end of the year, but constant momentum is necessary to sustain the culture of innovation.
Another major challenge organizations face is the inability to work collaboratively. It is necessary for the leader to have an open-ended communication with the employees. While many organizations understand the importance of working together, it is important to have a collaborative environment outside the organization as well. Innovation ecosystems bring together industry partners, customers, and even competitors to drive innovation in the industry forward.
Innovation Leads to Progress
Establishing an innovative culture is a long-drawn-out process, just like ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’! Sustained effort, right attitude along with a structured plan in sync with changing business dynamics holds the key. No idea is a bad idea, the right perspective towards an idea can turn it into a solution backed by a right timing. So, if you really want to succeed, it is important that you are passionate enough in making innovation a way of life at your organization to impact the overall business growth and enable it to thrive successfully amongst competitors. Remember that no idea is the final idea- innovation creeds that we keep moving ahead, keep evolving.