5 Ways to Foster Innovation

Contributed to by Training Magazine

Encourage experimentation, and build time into the day to allow ideas to surface.

Innovation is a hot topic for businesses. Everyone wants it, but how do you know if you have it? In Brandon Hall Group’s recent survey on Relationship Centered Learning, participants were asked to describe their company’s top two business priorities, and Improving Innovation was one of the top picks. How do you know if you are encouraging innovation in your organization? Here are some ways companies can foster innovation:

  1. Encourage Experimentation. Companies that make experimentation a priority will see results from those experiments. It’s important to give people time to be innovative. One example of a company for which innovation time is part of its DNA is 3M. It expects every employee to use 15 percent of their time to be creative and explore new ideas. If your employees spend all of their time in meetings or on phone calls, they don’t have time to actually work on projects and be creative. Encourage experimentation, and build time into the day to allow ideas to surface.
  2. Recognize innovation. Sometimes this is as simple as acknowledging a contribution, while other organizations offer bonuses or prizes for innovative ideas. If your company prizes innovation, then make sure your employees know innovation is valued.
  3. Reward Failure. One reason employees often don’t express their ideas is that they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to be a failure if something doesn’t work out. Tolerate mistakes and expect failure, and reward lessons learned. Ideas don’t always work the first time. Thomas Edison, one of American’s greatest inventors, once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.” You’ll never find the ways things do work without finding the ways that won’t work first.
  4. Create Connections. How many times have you heard someone say that they had a great idea and presented it to someone higher up in an organization and it went nowhere? Companies need outlets for employees to voice their ideas. Some companies have suggestion boxes, others have formal processes to submit ideas, but what’s important is to create pathways for ideas to become reality within organizations.
  5. Work in Teams. Create innovation teams to source new ideas. Look for people who are passionate about creating something new and different and allow them to work together to source new ideas and processes.

Once you have these new ideas, your company needs to use them. Put your innovative ideas into practice. If you tell people to be innovative, encourage the process and allow the results to shine. The worst thing you can do is encourage ideas and not implement them.

To learn more about innovation, download this complimentary case study about an organization looking to create a culture of innovation that would encourage employees at all levels to think more creatively and be actively engaged in developing new products and services: http://go.brandonhal….

With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is an established research organization in the performance improvement industry. Brandon Hall Group has an extensive repository of thought leadership research and expertise in its primary research portfolios—Learning and Development, Talent Management, Sales Effectiveness, Marketing Impact, and Executive Management. At the core of its offerings is a Membership Program that combines research, benchmarking, and unlimited access to data and analysts. Members have access to research and connections that help them make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, coalesced with analyst advisory services tailored to help put the research into daily action. For more information, visit www.brandonhall.com

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