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.
Do you need a Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)?
Traditional business thinking which typically focuses on 3 to 5 year strategies created with sophisticated analytical processes and logical reasoning, may now be a little too “clunky” and take too long to arrive at critical decisions.
Today’s fast-emerging, often unpredictable environment calls for agile decision making to seize opportunities. The rapid evolution of technology makes change more rapid. We operate in a complex global playing field, with informed and discerning customers, a much higher degree of unpredictability and a need to focus on sustainability.
We are no longer dealing with customers in the traditional sense of the word (one on one)… we are dealing with community members who have the potential to influence an entire brand, with more and more discernment, while making value-driven choices.
We must move from a consumer value proposition to a community member value proposition.
Be Part of the Community
Businesses now need to design a community for customers – a community focused on building value based relationships and creating a sense of shared interests which builds loyalty and leads to sales – the reverse to how business has been done until now. This is driven by social media.
The concept of sustainability is likely to become even more important to this discerning community of buyers. A business strategy that has always been about making profits and doing so in insolation should now incorporate a more holistic view of sustainable value. The concept of people, planet, profit measures the success of an organisation based on economic, ecological and social excellence.
Creativity and Innovation
The world’s top CEO’s predict that creativity will be the most important leadership skill in coming years. A creative mindset is agile, flexible and open to new ideas – very relevant in the new economy.
It is time to re-think every aspect of your business and evolve constantly to keep ahead of the fast-changing environment of the new economy. This evolving process is constant and continuous and requires a constant and consistent focus. Innovation and creativity can no longer be a once a year focus at the annual planning day – it must be integrated in the way you do business day in day out.
In fact, it may be time to re-engineer the corporate organisational chart and include a Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) alongside the Chief Executive Office (CEO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Chief Operations Officer (COO). The CIO will build a grapevine of communications where titles are irrelevant and innovation drives the agenda – it will be cross-divisional.
Innovation requires an element of chaos, trust in the creative process, a commitment to change and a focus on implementation that enables people to see concrete results. Sustainable innovation is often the underlying cause where companies have undergone a successful reinvention of their brand. Building an innovative mindset, which is part of the culture of your company will reap rewards as your team engages with your community, integrating technology to predict market changes.
Not only will you attract more customers, you will attract more employees with creative, innovative mindsets. It will mean change, and it may feel unstructured as you work with the intangible part of your business… but it is time!
At Opening Gates our INNOVATION by DESIGN workshops address how to embrace innovation, how to be ahead of the pack, how to be even more successful.