A major challenge that organizations face these days is figuring out the best way to effectively manage and promote a culture of innovation across the business. While many companies struggle with this, others seem to have it easy already and do it better than everyone else.
One thing that is clear for all is that you need more than luck to drive systematic innovations. The most innovative organizations have their untold stories of events behind the scene.
Although there are many success stories, it doesn’t take away from the amount of learning, errors, and trials that go into finding initiatives to prioritize, empower employees, and set up workflows.
It doesn’t matter if you are a startup or an established company; coming up with new ideas is always hard. Organizations that can innovate consistently do so because their innovation processes are purposefully managed. If you are looking to create an innovation culture in your startup, here are five ways to do so:
How to instil a culture of innovation in your Startup
1. Make innovation everyone’s job
It doesn’t matter if you are a leader or follower; everyone is an innovator in a startup. Unfortunately, the problem with many organizations is that most people don’t see themselves or other people as innovators.
It will come to your surprise that some managers discourage team members from creating or thinking of new ways to do things. So they are forcingly following the existing procedures and strictly stick to entrenched guidelines due to fear of what may happen if they go against the status quo.
On the other hand, forward-thinking organizations don’t depend on a group of people, departments, or units to think of new ideas. Rather, they build a culture where everyone is empowered and entrusted to innovate. Of course, there is more to innovation than product development or whatever happens in the lab. It spans all departments and involves new services, business models, processes, workplaces, partnerships, and philanthropy.
Ensuring everyone is involved in innovation leads to better offerings, personalized customer experience, customer and employee satisfaction, higher revenues, and new partnerships. You will be able to do more than the traditional innovation units can think of.
2. Set clear and measurable goals
Involving everyone means that a lot of work, and you have to measure your success. It is not as straightforward to measure innovation as a company’s revenue or marketing campaign ROI. It will help if you start by thinking about your organisation’s results at different innovation points.
Once you have sorted this, you begin to measure the number of ideas created, the quality, the ideas that were implemented or brought about through process reiteration, and the results. So you have a good idea of what to measure.
3. Build capacity to learn and innovate
It’s impossible to have innovation without learning. Therefore, the learning process is a critical antecedent of innovation. Before your organization starts to embark on the innovation journey, there are many steps that you must take and things that must happen.
Everyone has a role to play in innovation. But for this to happen, it is necessary first to create high engagement and a positive work environment for employees. If you don’t create a learning culture in your organization characterized by speaking freely, it will be hard for your employees to participate in the initiative to ensure innovation.
Suppose you are going to change your organization’s innovation culture. In that case, you must ensure that the structure, leadership behaviour, rewards, HR policies, and culture are in place to promote the right learning behaviours.
In addition, establishing the right processes to ensure collaboration and high-quality learning conversation will significantly improve your innovation process.
Using technology alone may not be enough to take your organization to the next point in your transformation journey. Collaboration is necessary for success. Having an open mindset and collaborating towards discovering new ways to think and work increases the level of motivation and participation of your employees. It brings everyone together and provides the basis for building consensus, experimentation, and fostering innovation.
In this age, collaboration goes past the internal stakeholders alone. The most prominent organizations build strong collaborations with their customers, resellers, partners, and other stakeholders. Although technology is not enough for innovation, organizations that learn, complement, and capitalize on AI and ML technologies will take collaboration to another level and allow the exploration of machines and humans working together.
5. Build strong networks
How are you connecting the different parts of your business? Have you created the platforms for your team to collaborate? Organizations must evolve and innovate to remain abreast of everything involving their industry, customers, and partners.
Building strong networks means many organizations have to move employees across countries, businesses, and functions. It is difficult to criticize this approach because it brings about career development and is proof that these organizations are invested in their employee growth. However, in reality, it is not a scalable approach.
Instead, companies should look for how collaboration technologies can help them build more robust networks and help their employees be more productive in their work.
Once you have the right platform in place, you don’t need a leadership structure or pre-select some members to create networks. However, it does not mean that having leaders or specialists within the network environment is out of place.
The truth is, once you have the right platform, the networks will grow organically based on specific issues or interests. If you are going to deliver collaboration successfully, then creating strong networks will be your backbone. In return, this will foster a workplace that’s open, innovative, and engaging.
If you are a startup owner and you are getting discouraged because you cannot create an innovation culture, you must know that you’re not alone. There are many other small and large businesses in the same situation, and everyone will grow by creating learning-enabling processes within the organization.
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