We’re not all Steve Jobs.
Not every organization is like Google, where creative geniuses turn the world upside down with groundbreaking ideas seemingly every other day.
However, all of us have the ability to develop a culture that embraces and encourages innovation and creativity. In my previous post, I wrote about the common barriers that prevent innovation within team members and organizations. Here are some concrete steps you can take to nurture an environment where innovation and creativity will flourish:
It starts at the top – The CEO must encourage innovation at all levels of the organization. Team leaders need to promote an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation. Team members must know that ideas are valued AND implemented whenever possible. Leaders must set a positive tone. You can make or break a new idea just by how you react to it. Be the cheerleader of new ideas. Refuse to remain with the status quo.
Engage employees – Encourage diversity of thought. Stimulate and nurture creative thinking. Challenge team members to come up with new ways of looking at old problems. Empower leaders and team members to feel free to create new ideas.
Reward innovation – Use group and individual incentive awards to recognize team members who generate cost-saving and revenue generating ideas. Establish metrics to measure success and reward those who make it happen.
Embrace failure – Even Steve Jobs was a failure. He couldn’t get a job in the mail room at Hewlett Packard. Abraham Lincoln had 12 major failures before he became President. You have to accept the fact that failure is going to happen. Encourage team members to learn from failures. View failures as an opportunity to get better.
Train and develop your team – Provide the tools your team members need to unleash their creative powers. Encourage learning. Use outside consultants, trainers and facilitators when beneficial. Provide opportunities for team members to attend conferences, workshops and webinars.
Don’t expect instant results – View innovation and creativity as a long-term project that will pay dividends over time. Patience is important. Develop a strategy for building innovation into your culture in stages. Carefully and thoughtfully manage each stage to success and then move on to the next stage.
Innovation is like a snowball. It starts at the top of the hill and gets bigger as it rolls downward. Great leaders should initiate a culture of innovation and creativity. Team members will buy in if they know your efforts are genuine and sustained.
Who knows? Maybe the next great idea just might be from your team.