Disruption has always existed in the business world. However, with the advent of technology, disruptions seem to be happening at lightning speed. This makes it difficult for companies to remain competitive, especially if their leaders haven’t prioritized a culture of innovation.
Innovation is essential when it comes to overcoming disruption and remaining indispensable in an ever-changing global ecosystem. Organizations that fail to grow, adapt, and thrive ultimately fail to innovate, as discussed in a Harvard Business School article.
On the other hand, businesses that make innovation a necessity can apply out-of-the-box thinking to even the stickiest of situations. For example, many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers with innovative cultures took advantage of Amazon marketing services to open up new e-commerce revenue streams. Their quick solution to a big problem helped them remain relevant as consumers moved their buying behaviors online en masse.
Tips to Make Innovation a Practice at Your Business
So how do you ensure that your business is culturally innovative? You can start with the following strategies to boost innovation in all areas of your business.
1. Encourage workers to look for ways to streamline processes and protocols
Do your employees follow workflows that were set in stone ages ago (and possibly before you were brought into the mix?) Though once appropriate, those workflows may no longer make sense. They might even be wasting time and resources. But you won’t know unless you urge your workers to innovate their daily routines.
For example, consider the flow of approvals necessary before authorizing a contract, purchase order, or invoice. Does everyone on the chain need to be involved? Could the way you obtain approvals move faster? As you find gaps in your internal systems, seek to close them through the power of innovative problem-solving.
2. Keep an eye on trends within your industry
There have been many tales of companies that ignored industry trends. One of the most memorable blunders was Blockbuster’s unconcerned approach to competition from Netflix. Blockbuster ignored all the signs that showed a major trend in on-demand movies and TV viewing was changing. Rather than reinventing itself or jumping on the bandwagon, Blockbuster waited too long and ended up being a poster child for what not to do.
No matter what niche you’re in, you need to stay on top of industry trends. You may not understand some of them, but resist the temptation to assume that they’re not important. Anything that’s a trend today could become a normal part of everyday life tomorrow. You don’t have to change for every trend that comes around. Nevertheless, you can’t afford to miss out on opportunities to be on the leading edge of your sector.
3. Put a premium on professional training and development for your team
The more knowledge your team members have, the more they’ll be able to contribute to the innovation happening at your organization. Plus, they’ll be less likely to leave and take their expertise elsewhere. Nearly seven out of 10 employees say they’re willing to stick with an employer that gives them a chance to upskill. Consequently, by covering all or part of the cost of professional development experiences for your people, you may be able to simultaneously increase their ability to innovate and lower your turnover rate.
The training options you bring to your employees can be anything you’d like. Just make sure that the skills they’re learning will help them and your business. Some topics beneficial to a culture of innovation include work style flexibility, empathy, critical thinking, and creativity. However, don’t be afraid to design a robust training schedule that is customized to what your business needs most.
4. Highlight the innovations your employees come up with
As a leader, you’re in the perfect place to put a spotlight on innovative employees. Rather than just thanking someone privately for introducing the team to a new tech tool or clever idea, offer public kudos, too. The more emphasis you put on the innovations happening within your company, the more innovations you’re likely to see.
You could even add special awards for innovation to cap off your annual meetings. Be aware that innovations don’t have to be big to be impactful. A small innovation, like a switch in a supply chain vendor, could produce savings. Those savings might be used to keep your prices low despite inflation — and make your customers happier and more loyal. Any innovation can make a difference. It’s up to you to notice and reward people who address problems with fresh eyes.
When you have a culture of innovation, you have a cushion against disruption. So why wait? Make innovation part of the fabric of everything you do.