It is high time that entrepreneurs and leaders consider how to inspire their employees to think in a creative manner and give priority to innovation.

This is of paramount importance if you want to expand and grow the business in this fluid and dynamic environment. Innovation encourages viewing things from different perspectives, unleashing the power of creative thought and solving problems in a unique manner.

However, innovation is not something you can learn easily in a seminar or workshop. Innovation helps in expanding the scale of business operations, resulting in greater success. It is of paramount importance for business leaders to lead by example and set an example for others to follow. This reinforces your expectations by discussing and appreciating innovation. You can model innovation for your employees in different ways.

Embracing Social Media

Customers often discuss the problems and issues they want solved on social media. They may also mention something nasty about a competitor that is bugging them. What many businesses overlook is these comments can be precious as they may trigger new product concepts and ideas, which the business can create or react in a way a competitor has not.

Show your team the importance of social listening, which is a crucial creative activity. Share the links you discover, and what they can mean for your company and how you could use them to your advantage. Your team is likely to follow suit.

Encouraging Skunkworks Projects

This project team is geared towards innovation because their projects demand working outside the traditional organisational structure. This helps in coming up with innovative solutions and products. Google employees are famous for spending nearly 20% of their time on side projects. Encouraging employees to create these projects will lead to product and service innovation.  The encouragement of these side projects can yield favourable results.

While you may not have the luxury of allowing employees to devote exactly 20% of their time on skunkworks, but encouragement of these projects can have fantastic outcomes. 

Brainstorming

Conduct frequent brainstorming sessions. Use an area with a physical or virtual whiteboard if team members are in remote location. You have options like Realtime Board or OneNote from Microsoft. Identify a problem and encourage employees to unleash their creative potential. It is important that you participate yourself and set the example. Keep the session positive, avoiding harsh critique of ideas.

Even if these brainstorming sessions do not yield any immediate and tangible outcomes or innovations, it is important to keep in mind the practice of holding them is important. In a sense, creativity is like a muscle which gets stronger with more exercise.

Leverage From Season Employees

These experience team members have accumulated considerable experience, including various methods of doing things they may have experienced from their employment in other organisations. Don’t forget that this pool of experience may lead to your next innovation.

Encourage and empower seasoned employees in public meetings in order to exchange ideas and processes which may not be new to them but is definitely novel for new employees. This exercise has the benefit of showing the whole team the value of doing new things. This also gets the message across to the whole team that practicing new ways is vital to the growth of your company.

Develop Products by Solving Internal Problems

Brilliant entrepreneurs have the knack of developing products by finding a solution to an internal problem and turning it into a source of revenue. For example let’s assume you require a system for order processing and are unable to find one which is customised for the industry in which you operate.

Build one on your own and you may be able to tweak it and then sell to others. You can conduct product visioning sessions and hold a discussion regarding solutions to problems that can be turned into successful products. Discussion of these possibilities can spur members of your team to think more consciously with respect to new opportunities.

Appreciate Innovation

Add innovation to the employee recognition criteria. Not just reward but give creative employees public recognition. Your company should have programs that recognise better than average performance. Praise employees who come up with unique ways of solving problems, tweak procedures for efficiency and have new product ideas.

The Benefits of Being Small

It may occur to you that the size of your business is a disadvantage that stretches your financial and other resources to the limit. But this can be a blessing in disguise. Small companies can benefit from being nimble and can leap on to opportunities quicker than their larger counterparts can. Sometimes, even lack of resources can trigger the creative spark in a team. So celebrate your size.

By frequently talking to your team in a positive manner you can encourage them by stressing that what they lack in resources they more than compensate it by being a tad more creative. Regularly point out minor changes and tweaks, complimenting team members when they come up with creative ideas and solutions. You will be amazed by how acknowledgement can boost your team’s focus and innovation. Repeat it until they finally believe it.

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Martin Martinez
CEO at TheBoardroom.com
P: 1800 08 44 88
E: martin@theboardroom.com