Actionable Ideas for Encouraging Innovation

Innovation keeps organizations fresh, drives a forward-thinking culture, and helps companies stay ahead of the competition. It doesn’t just happen; leadership and teams must be intentional about creating a culture that is always reaching toward improvement and encouraging innovation. Learn steps your company can put into action to create an environment where innovation thrives.

Rearrange Desks

Design thinking involves a process of removing items that obstruct communication. Encourage a culture of innovation by physically changing things up. Each time groups start a new project, move seating arrangements.

Think about what happens when your family sits down to dinner. You don’t think about where you will sit, you just go to your usual spot. Seating position often dictates both authority and conversation patterns. The same thing happens in the workplace. Rearranging desks changes the flow and encourages input from people who might otherwise blend into the environment.

Infuse the day with energy by using standing desks. Employees will be more likely to adjust their proximity to other teammates if they’re already standing. Behavior patterns will flow around interactions, not around furniture.

Remove the Fear of Mistakes

Employees can’t think outside the box if they’re afraid of making mistakes. When bold choices open one up to ridicule or criticism, fear stifles creativity. While companies want teams to carefully weigh the consequences of their actions, they also want to encourage innovation.

At team meetings, leaders can require teams to come prepared to share three failures from the week. Analyze the thinking that led to the issue and how team members could adjust their actions to arrive at a different outcome. Applaud original thinking while encouraging continual refinement.

Schedule Innovation

Ingenious ideas need time to gestate. When employees are constantly under pressure to complete their day-to-day duties, they don’t have time to develop new ideas. Free time for innovation will never just happen, it must be intentionally created.

3M uses the 15 percent rule to encourage “experimental doodling.” Employees are paid to spend some of their time creating new ideas and coming up with new ways to approach old problems. Software giant Atlassian allows employees to take paid time off work, but in exchange they must deliver innovative ideas within twenty-four hours. If you want creativity, build it into your corporate calendar on a regular basis.

Train Leadership

The best leaders know when to nurture and when to step back. Sometimes the process can be over-managed, stifling creativity. Leaders should provide just enough support to keep the group on task and provide a secure environment.

Leadership coaching is one of the best investments organizations can make. A Stanford study found that nearly 66 percent of leadership does not receive coaching or counsel from outside, but 100 percent of those surveyed said they would like to receive feedback that led to changes. The same study found the top areas in which they would like coaching involves delegation, conflict management, motivational skills and team building.

Innovation is the key to future success. Add to your company’s bottom line, energize your workforce, and promote creativity by making innovation the focus of each team. Whether working together with government agencies, the public sector, non-profits or individuals, MindSpring Metro DC is committed to unlocking growth for extraordinary transformative results. Want to learn more?

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