Becoming an innovative organization

Do you ever wonder how some companies seem to continue to come up with innovative ideas over-and-over-and-over again? Perhaps you imagine they’ve found some magic formula.

The reality is that innovation doesn’t just happen. You need to set up your organization so that it continually fosters innovative and creative thinking.

That starts with breaking down barriers between top management and employees. The more your employees know about what’s going on within your company the better able they are to offer suggestions for improvement. Encourage conversations between management and employees and make sure every employee knows their ideas will be given serious consideration.

In addition, make sure information is not kept in siloes. Encourage cross-department communication and sharing of ideas. It can be very helpful to have someone from outside a department see areas of improvement that may be missed by those working in the department day-in and day-out.

Make sure employees know their ideas will be carefully considered and remember there is no such thing as a “dumb” idea. Even if you can’t implement a suggestion, make sure the employee knows you appreciate their input. This will encourage them to continue to come up with even more ideas. You never know which idea will be a winner.

Remember there is some risk involved in being innovative and that you may find that an idea that looked good on paper failed during implementation. Do not penalize or discourage employees whose ideas didn’t turn out as planned. Instead, thank them for trying to make your operation better and encourage them to continue to share their ideas.

Don’t limit idea generation to a specific time or during a planned brainstorming session. You never know when an idea will surface so make sure you have a process in place that lets an employee bring forth their ideas whenever they occur.

Consider a reward system for employee innovations that are successfully implemented. And make sure that recognition is public in order to encourage others to come forward with their own innovative, creative ideas.

Innovation doesn’t just happen. Companies that continually come up with innovative solutions do so because they have built an organization that shares information, encourages everyone to be involved, is not afraid to take risks and rewards those who dare to “think outside the box.”

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