5 Key Elements to an Environment of Innovation

image curtesy of Boegh via flickr
image courtesy of Boegh via flickr

How does one create an atmosphere of innovation? As a leader in your organization it is up to you to not only bring innovation into your working environment, but foster it into success. Here are the five most important elements of innovation.

5. Participation. Get everyone involved. By drawing from the largest possible crowd, you will benefit from the broadest knowledge base. You’ll need to motivate employees at all levels and from all departments to join in to get the most salient results. Everyone has something to say, the key is to get them talking. If an open dialogue is new to your organization, employees might be timid in the beginning- show them that you want there feedback, and get ready for the flow.

4. Be prepared for an ongoing discussion. Not every idea will be a straight shot to a desirable end. However, as the conversation grows in an open discussion, new, related ideas will spring up. An idea alone is just that: alone. The more a conversation is built around an idea the stronger and more relevant it will become.

3. Follow-through. Innovation should never be a one time event. Innovation is a process unique to the needs of your organization. Ideas that merit and allow for implementation should be followed-up on immediately. If a good idea can be implemented right away, go ahead and start it. The trust you’ve built with your innovators will be strengthened as they see their ideas implemented. Even when an idea is not feasible, transparency with your innovators will strengthen this trust. Tell them why their idea cannot be enacted, especially if it’s a popular one. Including everyone in every step of the innovation cycle shows appreciation, and will better allow your innovators to direct their ideation going forward.

2. Define your goals. Opening the floor to crowdsourced ideation, and group innovation will always yield a quantity of ideas. Producing relevant ideas, that requires refinement. At the very beginning it is important to know why you are guiding your organization into innovation territory, and what you want to gain from your foray. Are you looking to cut costs? Are you looking to simplify your inner office process? Are you looking for new products or services? Your answer will affect your process. Don’t fear the commitment, though, your goals can be redefined at any stage of the game, and should be redefined often as required by the growing capacity for innovation and the needs of your organization change. It is important to maintain transparency and open dialogue to keep your crowd informed.

1. Create a structure. You’ve seen the data, you’ve read the articles, and you’re ready to get innovating. It might not seem intuitive, but successfully implemented innovation requires structure. This starts with the beginning of your campaign. As innovation is new to your organization, you are its shepard. Ideation may be the source of innovation, but the challenge often lies in discerning which ideas to enact. Your goals will help you narrow down which ideas to focus on. Know how you will communicate with the crowd, and stay consistent.

What have you found to be at the core of creating and maintaing an innovative atmosphere? Share your insights in the comments.

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