7 Tips On How To Sustain Innovation
Posted in: Innovation
There is nothing better than a fresh new project that has the whole team amped up and ready to create.
Everyone is tossing around their wildest ideas, the passion begins to flow and you just know that you are on to something truly great. The “structured chaos” that begins to form is where you are really able to get innovative and produce the best results—it’s truly a natural recipe for success!
Unfortunately, at many companies, these sparks of innovation and excitement are a rarity, rather than a regular occurrence. A one-hit wonder. The rare exception to the age-old rule that work projects are a chore and simply need to be completed as quickly as possible. But this form of thinking is all wrong.
Innovation as an end destination for a few projects here and there isn’t going to cut it in the long run. In fact, innovation should never have an end, period. It should be an ongoing journey that is present in every single aspect of your business from the company culture, big initiatives, small projects, employee decisions and everything that falls in between. A great company should continue to innovate throughout their entire journey, constantly reinventing themselves, reevaluating their processes, and re-upping their workflow.
As I’m sure many of you know, this is a lot easier said than done, and the secret sauce of innovation is a hard one to come by. Luckily, I have come across a few tried and true methods for sustaining innovation in the workplace to help you get started.
Start With Leadership
A commitment to ongoing innovation in the workplace should start at the top with the leadership of your company. It is the people leading your company who create the psychological environment that both encourages and rewards innovation. The best way to get every leader on the same page is to create a playbook that outlines a systematic process for sustaining innovation.
The playbook should include the framework for everything from identifying and understanding opportunities, to organizing the right team, coming up with ideas, and testing and executing your final solution. Once set in place, this innovation playbook should be distributed to everyone throughout your company, and it should be the workplace bible by which you operate.
Make Innovation a Natural Part of Working
Once you have your playbook set in place, the processes you outlined for innovation should be incorporated into every single aspect of your workflow so that it comes as naturally as breathing. For instance, if one of your biggest goals as a company is to increase creativity in meetings, you shouldn’t have to sit down and ask “how can we be more creative with this idea?” That question should have already been in the mindset of every employee when they first sat down to tackle the project. It should be the question that drives every move and every step of the process. This allows you to skip past the obvious, redundant questions and simply ask, “This is creative and innovative, and now how can we take the next step to really wow people?”
Don’t Be Afraid To Set Unrealistic Goals
While many people often tell you to only set goals that are realistic and attainable, I prefer to set goals that fall outside that ballpark. Why? Because even if you only reach 80% of your super-innovative, unrealistic goal, it’s better than reaching 100% of your “just okay” goal.
Plus, when you create stretch goals that pull your mind out of its comfort zone, you will be amazed at how quickly and passionately you begin to move towards success. Unrealistic goals cause you to “get scrappy” with your ideas, swing harder than you ever have before, and think beyond what you ever thought was possible.
Set Unrealistic Deadlines
In addition to setting unrealistic goals for your project, it can also be helpful to create unrealistic deadlines. The kind of anxious excitement and motivation that often comes with tight deadlines helps to keep your mind on the straight track for success. For instance, if you run into a problem or a dead end, instead of stopping to think about why this error is happening or finding an excuse for what went wrong, your mind instead starts thinking differently to find an immediate and effective solution. No time to worry about your mistakes or think about pushing back the problem till later.
Understand That Failure is a Stepping Stone
Here at Hello Innovation, one of our core company beliefs is the idea that you should “fail fast.” Companies who do not accept or leave room for failure will not experience the growth and innovation that they are looking for because, inherently, innovation is a risk in itself.
It’s all about understanding that failing is simply a step in the overall learning process. When you have the opportunity to fail or make mistakes, you ultimately have the opportunity to learn and grow. The key is to make adjustments quickly in order to improve.
Toss Out Ideas That Aren’t Working
Obviously no one wants to toss out a project that they have put their hard work and talent into. But, when a project isn’t working or isn’t contributing to the overall success of what you’re doing, you just have to cut it loose to make room for new, more effective ideas. By holding on to an idea in hope that it works out in the future (even though you know you’re stuck at a dead end), you are only wasting your own energy and resources. And even worse, you’re holding yourself back from completing a project that actually does have an end goal in sight.
Seek Inspiration Everywhere
Sometimes your innovation and creativity can only expand so far when you are confined in a limited environment that you are overly familiar with. After all, how can you expect your mind to reach new ideas when you have nothing new inspiring it? That’s why it’s so important to leave your usual environment and look for inspiration from the outside.
This can be a new group of people that you work with for the day to gain a fresh perspective, or even tossing out your default methods in order to see the problem in a new light. Heck, it may mean taking a vacation to set your mind free to be able to look at things clearly when you return. Whatever you do, sometimes you just need to forget what you know and look at what you are doing from an outside perspective, literally or figuratively.
What are some ways that you work to sustain innovation in the workplace? What methods work for you? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
If you’re looking to work with a company that empowers you to innovate and let your ideas run wild, be sure to check out Hello Innovation’s 30+ open jobs today!