At Dinte Global Executive Search, we see a lot of companies looking to inspire innovation in a meaningful way. However, organizations often innovate just for the sake of innovation. The word innovation is so common that it appeared on LinkedIn’s List of Top 10 Overused Phrases of 2011. So how do you inspire innovation in your organization without getting lost in the shuffle? Whether it’s a government contracting company looking to keep up in the new economy or a publishing company looking to go digital, every organization’s innovation plan needs an organized structure to stay afloat.
- Set Attainable Innovation Goals: No matter how big or small your organization is, your long term innovation goals are likely to be ambitious. Whether you want your new product to be in hundreds of companies, high profit margins, or a wide spread presence on social media, these goals could take months or years to reach. To keep everyone in the company motivated and optimistic, set smaller goals by the week or month. Short terms goals will also allow for any problems to be quickly indentified and solved.
- Celebrate Success Often: Simply reaching your short terms goals is not enough to keep innovation going. It is important to acknowledge these goals and celebrate success often to show your employees that the innovation strategy is effective. It is also important to recognize individuals as they contribute ideas or finish an innovative project.
- Give Employees Freedom to Innovate: A video by RSA Animate shows an interesting innovation concept by Atlassian, an Australian software company. Once a quarter, software developers are given 24 hours to start any kind of project they want. At the end of the 24 hours, results are presented to the company in a casual meeting. “It turns out that one day of pure undiluted autonomy has lead to a whole array of fixes for existing software and a whole array of ideas for new products that otherwise may have never emerged,” explains the video. Setting aside time for innovation will make it a priority and allow employees to innovate without fear of being rejected by the management.
- Hold Someone Accountable And Make It a Full Time Job: Holding someone accountable will help make sure change actually occurs and employees stay engaged. This will also give employees someone to talk to if they have an idea or question. If your company is large, consider developing a innovation team.
- Keep Track of Results: If employees can see their ideas at work or their success highlighted, they will be more motivated to stay engaged. Consider keeping a log of success through an internal organization blog, an intranet, weekly e-mails, or bulletin board.
- Don’t Change for the Sake of Change: Find an area of your organization that really needs innovation. Then clearly communicate this need for change to your employees. If there is no need for change or your employees don’t understand the benefits of contributing, employees may lose interest. As the saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
How does your organization inspire long term innovation?