Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry, and yet it can seem hard to find in an organization. The answer may be that your organization needs to be redesigned to allow the free flow of ideas. Ask yourself the following questions and consider what might need to change.
Who Makes What Choices?
With any organization, you should start with where the buck stops and work backward. If, for example, you’re spending all your time vetting every decision, you need to delegate more responsibility to your team just for your own sanity. Look closely at how the decision got to you first, however. How formal is the process before a decision gets to you or a team member in charge of those decisions? How many forms are filled out, how many rules are followed, and how many emails or texts are sent? As employees see how ideas and approaches are treated, they’ll weigh the cost, in time and possibly reputation, accordingly. Encourage employees to make their own decisions below a certain level of responsibility, and make it clear those ideas and thoughts never have a cost and don’t need to be vetted.
Who Does What?
Since the rise of the assembly line, work has become more specific and specialized. To some degree, specialization is inevitable; as we learn more about the sciences, for example, new disciplines will appear. Ask yourself if your employees are seeing only one tree in this forest, and work on ways to develop cross-disciplinary discussion and skill-building. This can not only bolster innovation but encourage more direct communication and informal consensus building. It helps make teams more aware of what other teams are doing.
Keep an eye, also, on whether responsibilities and tasks are changing over time. While every job will have at least some tasks that never change, like writing reports, checking budgets, and the like, you should ensure that time-consuming and repetitive tasks, in particular, are automated or spread out so employees can focus on more creative, thought-provoking duties.
When Does Something Get Written Down?
The digital age has made committing your thoughts to paper, or at least “paper,” almost obligatory. However, there’s a reason everyone still has a phone. For some modes of thought, particularly creative and improvised modes of thought, the conversation is just better and more natural. The comfort of your team should come first; some of your team can speak up in a meeting while others are just too shy to do so. Ask yourself at what point an idea hits the paper and goes up the chain. Some ideas wither simply because it takes too much work to encourage them.
Who Knows What?
Nothing is more fatal to innovation than a simple lack of information yet, especially if we’re struggling with a problem, we tend to avoid discussing it outside our circle. Make it part of any process, particularly brain-storming and problem-solving, to ask outside the team, the department, or even, in some cases, the company. Look for different perspectives and knowledge sets that are applicable.
Innovation is about encouraging the flow and sharing of ideas. IdeaScale can help drive innovation at your company. To learn more, request a demo!
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