February 21st, 2019 by Caragh Medlicott
What does the word “innovation” mean to your company? Arguably, it is the most important quality a start-up or growing business can have – and that’s exactly why innovation has become something of a buzzword in the world of business.
The problem with buzzwords is that they are generally used without thought or reflection – they become associated with the fluff that companies use to try and sell themselves as progressive and new. But for businesses with genuine values of creativity and change, innovation is the lifeblood that keeps them pushing forward.
With the meaning a little hazy, it’s about time we think about what innovation actually is. By its very nature, innovation is hard to pin down. It can’t be defined as one single thing, and it doesn’t manifest itself in one single way.
Innovation is energy, openness, creativity, enthusiasm, spark, transformation, movement, resilience, creativity, optimism and so much more. To try and summarise it succinctly, innovation is that restless kind of creativity that looks at the way things are done and asks why?
Incorporating innovation into a company doesn’t happen overnight; it requires persistence and a company-wide culture adjustment. But it is possible. So here are 3 ways your company can become more innovative:
Rethink how you tackle mistakes & failure
Everyone makes mistakes – but few make as many as successful people and businesses. In a now famous tale, while on his journey to inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison said:
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
This attitude perfectly encapsulates the most productive attitude we can have towards failure – but it is one that many companies find scary to adopt. When you have so many systems put in place to avoid mistakes, you may actually hinder progress
Accepting failure doesn’t mean being sloppy or making the same mistakes again; it is about learning from mistakes so you can get better and – like Thomas Edison – find the way that will work.
Let all voices be heard
As a general rule, companies are structured in a hierarchical fashion with different levels of seniority within each department – but that structure shouldn’t mean that those lower down aren’t heard.
Creating an environment where every employee feels comfortable and encouraged to share their ideas means you’ll get the very most out of each member of staff. Sometimes it takes a fresh or different perspective to see what needs to change for the better of the whole team.
Instilling this kind of attitude contributes to a company culture where everyone feels acknowledged is an essential element of a positive, hard-working company. Hosting monthly meetings or idea roundups where everyone feels comfortable contributing is one way to start to introduce this inclusiveness within your own company.
Have vision and ambition
Your company is on a journey – it can’t get to where to it’s going if you don’t have a destination in mind. Every company success story starts as just an idea. The difference between those who make it, and those who don’t, is the energy that’s put in to actually reaching that end goal.
Everyone has dreams, but to actually achieve them they should be specific. Rather than talking to your employees about wishy-washy ideas of success, tell them exactly what you’d like to achieve. Encourage creative, disruptive thinking within the company – with the ultimate goal of making the company’s vision a reality.
Having the ambition and confidence to aim high is crucial. As mentioned earlier, you can’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying. Weave these values into the foundation of your company and you may be surprised by how far you’ll go.
Discover the innovation process by making real changes to your company culture & strategy – so that you can grow, improve and uncover the best version of your business.