You can’t achieve innovation through mission statements or press releases. Many leaders talk about the importance of innovation but are merely paying lip service to the concept.
Developing a strategy and mindset that encourages creative thinking takes concerted effort, observes Lisa Bodell, writing for Strategy+Business.
The author points out that senior executives must practise what they preach because employees at every level follow the example of the organisation’s management.
Bodell offers four tips for leaders to increase innovation activity throughout their whole organisation:
1) Dedicate a budget. The author suggests building an innovation sandbox within your organisation where a small, cross-departmental team can test new concepts. A passionate leader should be appointed to turn these ideas into business possibilities as rapidly as possible. By assigning a specific fund for innovative projects, it will send the signal that senior management is serious about innovation.
2) Define and communicate desired behaviours. If you wish to create a culture that embrace new ideas and change, you need to be more specific than just telling people to be innovative.
3) Host an idea competition and celebration. Bodell suggests organising an internal competition within your company for all employees to come up with innovative ideas. You can then hold an awards ceremony for the best contributions. This can be a useful way to encourage innovation and discover potential solutions.
4) Show tolerance for risk. Failures can provide the seed for the next great idea, observes Bodell. The author advises: “In your own business, publicly define a smart risk in terms of time investment, financial impact, required resources, or prototyping. Demonstrate your tolerance for the risk by holding an annual failure ceremony or spotlighting a risky experiment to the rest of the organisation.”