Being innovative will help your company gain competitive advantage, that’s a fact of business, no matter what industry you are in or product/service you sell. So it’s important that within your company/department/team you create a culture where employees are actively encouraged to put new ideas forward, challenge the norm and look at things from a different perspective.

Being a creative designer and having worked across a diverse range of environments, I have always found following some, if not all of these steps will help you achieve this, and in turn improve your business’s performance;

Stress the Importance

Start by ensuring all your employees know that you want to hear their ideas and how important innovation is to your business. If they don’t understand and appreciate the importance innovation plays in your company’s success, then you won’t fully achieve their buy in.

Make Time

It’s important to allocate sufficient time for idea generation, put it in your calendar and make sure it happens. Otherwise you risk continuing to do the same things day after day, week after week and so on. Work this way for too long, and your competitors will soon steal market share and you’ll be facing an uphill battle to get things back on track.

When facilitating these sessions, ensure you get a team of people together as you’ll find the results are far greater, participants will feed off of each other to explore, test and refine their ideas.

Actively Solicit Ideas

Use suggestion boxes around the work place to make it easier for your employees to put their suggestions forward. Often the best ideas are thought of out of the blue, so you need to ensure that when these moments of inspiration happen it gets noted, or they’ll soon be forgotten and lost forever.

Additionally, if you have a particular problem, try opening this up to the entire team, you might be surprised at the response you get and it engaging employees is always a winner when it comes to increasing motivation levels.

Be Supportive

Make sure you respond positively to every idea no matter how big, small or even foolish it might be. The important thing is that your employee is engaged in your business and is looking for ways you can improve. Sure some of their ideas might not be the best, but what’s to say that their next one won’t be?

Mistakes Might Well Happen

It’s important to recognise that mistakes happen when trying out new things, and it’s also necessary to let your staff know that you’re not going to penalise someone who’s idea didn’t work out. So long as the rationale behind their idea was sound, they are able to learn from this and put this into future practice, there should be no harm done.

Reward Creativity

The simplest form of workplace psychology; if someone exhibits a desirable behaviour, reward them for this. It’s worth thinking about a formal reward scheme for ideas that get implemented and makes a positive difference to your business. Just as important as this, ensure that others throughout the business are aware of this significant contribution. You’ll find this will spur on a whole host of new ideas.

Act on Ideas

Creative thinking is only worthwhile if it results in action. if you don’t take action on these ideas, your business will suffer from this and you will most likely find that suggestions soon dry up.

The Final Thought