Don’t micromanage the process
Creating the space for innovation is great - but don’t dive in too early and try and make it part of your organisation's brand. Adopting new ideas for the sheer kudos of it (‘Look! We’ve found something new and shiny!’) without thinking about how they can be properly integrated can kill an idea forever. There has to be a benefit, to the company or the consumer, or it has to solve a problem. The danger of innovation fatigue is that your team will grunt ‘we tried that once’ every time an idea even vaguely similar crops up. So allow time to test theories and think through ideas and the ways in which they can be adopted.
For ideas as to how to deliver that, try Intuit’s Catalyst Toolkit, a guide that was made available to all employees and the public and which includes ‘self-serve ingredients for cooking up innovation.’ Forgive them that phraseology, it’s still useful.
What’s right is what works, but what works might vary. Innovations can save time, cost, and resources but can also increase sales, brand profile or win awards. Whatever the desired outcome, measure the improvements that new ideas are supposed to bring. In the end, it may show up on the balance sheet but there’s lots of things to measure ahead of that (cost, time, resources etc) which are pretty strong indicators as to whether you’re on the right track.
Rewarding innovation is vital, but financial incentives can create division in the team. A successful idea has many parents. Give ‘worthless’ rewards insteads - have ceremonies where you note the strides individuals have taken, but reward them with low-grade prizes. Validate their invention, but don’t create disharmony amongst those who are still at the coalface and delivering your core work every day, and genuinely don’t have the time to think creatively.
If you can get some of these embedded, you’ll be on the way to new approaches to at least some of your problems. Innovation isn’t the preserve of the megalomaniac few, it can emerge out of process as much as inspiration. A company that makes innovation possible is one that is likely to find it.
At Galway Business School you can learn to deliver innovation through a Certificate in Innovation and New Enterprise Development programme as part of our Bachelor of Business (Hons) with International Business. Or browse all of the business courses we have available.