How can you spark new ideas and encourage innovation in your team?
Innovation is so important for organizations to continue growing. But are you openly encouraging it within your own team? Are you creating a space where employees at all levels feel comfortable sharing their ideas?
That’s what Matthew Brown discusses in this episode of The Learning Xchange podcast. Matthew (Schoox’s VP of Learning and Brand Success) shares his six tips for encouraging innovation in your team. He says that being more open to trying new things and encouraging everyone to speak up can empower your organization.
Listen to the podcast below or keep reading.
1. Realize that innovation is everyone’s job
A common issue in organizations is to assume that innovation is someone else’s job to figure out. Surely coming up with new ideas is for the creative team/the managers, no one else?
The reality is that no matter where you are in the organization, everyone has ideas. Everyone can, and should, share their unique perspective to help the organization grow and improve.
Getting into the mindset that innovation is everyone’s job can take some adjustment. But by encouraging everyone to contribute and valuing everyone’s ideas equally, you can learn so much from your team.
2. Encourage trial and error
Employees often feel like they need to be perfect. Sometimes they can be terrified of making mistakes. The problem here is that this fear can close off any innovative ideas or creative problem-solving.
If employees believe they have to do everything the same way each time, how will you ever challenge the status quo? How will you improve your processes?
By encouraging trial-and-error thinking, you’re saying that mistakes are okay. They are part of the process. Only by trying lots of things can you uncover something great.
What employees need to know is that their ideas are valued and welcome. They need you to provide a safe space for them to feel comfortable sharing ideas.
3. Encourage people to tell stories
On a similar note, mistakes are part of the process. They are the foundations of any great business or invention.
The products you see at the store, the technology you use every day, was almost certainly not the original idea someone had initially.
It’s hard to imagine all the mistakes people made along the way when you see the finished product. As a leader, you can encourage people to share stories of how mistakes turned into successes.
Tell employees about your own processes or ideas that were far from perfect in the beginning. Let them know that any idea can be built on.
4. Look at creative solutions
A common issue that organizations have is subscribing to a “not invented here” mindset.
By that, we mean when we use a tool or service that has issues. Rather than trying to create a solution, we brush off the problems as out of our control. It’s not our software. It’s not our service.
This mindset makes it harder to come up with creative solutions and ways around the problems. If we live in that fixed mindset, we never bring our best ideas to the table.
Instead, we should encourage creative solutions and problem-solving. Ask your team what the issues are, and if they have ideas they would like to try out.
5. Broaden your idea of what innovation means
When it comes to the subject of innovation, we all have ideas about what it means. In an organization, it could mean something different for each member of the team.
One assumption that people have is that innovation is one person’s or department’s responsibility. New ideas and processes are for X department to worry about. However, innovation is a group effort, or as we mentioned earlier, it’s everyone’s job.
Innovation is not just a business process. Everyone has a voice and an opinion worth sharing, and this should be encouraged.
Innovation comes from discussion and experimentation, but everyone needs to be on board with what it means for your team. Spend some time outlining what you want innovation to mean in your team. Discuss it with colleagues and employees and get their feedback.
6. Accept that no idea is a bad idea
Lastly, one of the most important things you can do is realize that no idea is a bad idea. Even ideas that are not practical or are nonsensical can still have value – but only if they’re spoken about.
If you have an open working environment where everyone shares ideas, the chances are you’re going to find some that just don’t work.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and those sharing shouldn’t feel discouraged.
By openly discussing these ideas, it can spark new ones for other people. It can generate new ideas from different perspectives. Soon enough, you will have tons of brand-new ideas, like a snowball effect.
That’s where true innovation comes in. By gather different perspectives, ideas, and creative solutions, you can build on them and factor real change into your organization.
As a business leader, innovation is not your burden alone. By sharing and encouraging others to share their thoughts and solutions, you can progress and move forward in your business.
For more insights, visit our podcast, The Learning Xchange, on your favorite podcast app.