Fostering innovation

innovationInnovation. Most businesses strive for it…well, sort of…

Basically there are 2 phases to everything. In life, business, relationships, education, anything at all, you’re either growing or you’re dying. For this instance, let’s talk about organizations.

Most business leaders and would agree that it’s crucial for an organization to be innovative, however, few know how to make that happen. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet, but you can create conditions to make the environment ripe for innovation.

Regarding one source of innovation, Nancy Perkins wrote this about Gen Y workers in her blog How to think different and encourage innovation:

Some managers are seemingly threatened by the usually Gen Y’s employee’s outspoken suggestions, dismissing them as youthful and misguided egotistical aggressiveness or as sneaky ways to look better than the boss.

Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t be the bleach killing all traces of innovation DNA in your organization. Leaders are intently focused on the well being of the organization, even at the expense of themselves.
I’ll add a 3 other keys:

1. Don’t allow people to squash ideas before they’re explored. This takes many forms but one common squasher is “It’s not that bad.”

2. Find time to talk with the people closest to the people you serve. It should scare you to death that the people who make the least amount of money are the face of your organization (cashier, CS reps, etc.,).

3. Set the example. Make time to learn and grow. Be visible in your exploration of new opportunities and approaches. If the front line folks see the CEO asking questions, they’ll be more likely to ask too.

If you have a few of the right people on the bus, that should do the trick.

What are you doing to foster innovation?  I’d love to hear what you’re doing that we could learn from here…

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