How many ideas never make the light of day because of the fear of feeling or being vulnerable? Too many! Too many lost opportunities and the opportunity cost is significant.
Have you had an idea that you didn’t share or implement just to see someone else had subsequently brought that same idea into a reality?
The fear of losing face, of looking bad, of failure… are the biggest inhibitors of innovation – particularly in the workplace.
If you were to ask yourself…
Is my business environment, my business culture, conducive to idea sharing?
And would everyone (and I mean every one) in my organisation feel comfortable sharing an idea?
… would anything need to change?
If you want to increase ownership of innovative change then encourage and progress the initiatives of your team. If you want more ideas from your team about how to be an even better business – then progress their suggestions. Create a safe, non-threatening environment in which to share.
You have to walk the talk – if you say you want ideas then embrace them, act on them, share the value added as a result of the implementation and give credit to the initiator always.
People believe what they see – so, if the team see an idea being dismissed with off-hand comments such as:
- We’ve had that one before;
- That would cost way too much; or
- That won’t work here,
then they will be less inclined to contribute again – they will believe that their ideas are not appreciated, and that they may lose face in front of their peers – it won’t matter that your published values around innovation say otherwise.
One of the reasons given for not making a contribution to innovation in an organisation, is the belief that nothing will happen anyway, that it is all just a waste of time. If you agree to implement an idea because it will add value to your organisation, then make sure that it happens and without delay.
If you as a leader have an idea, share it for comment, feedback, improvement, and brainstorming – that way your team knows that you are willing to share and that their contribution to build on the initiative is valued. This process speaks clearly to your culture and is a powerful way to enhance the teams’ ownership of proposed changes.
Innovation must be integral to the way we do business and there is a huge bank of intellect right there in our people, which, if left untapped, is a total waste. So, leverage off your intellectual capital by creating a “how can we do it even better” culture in your organisation.