Engagement is a challenge even at the most innovative companies. Bringing in stakeholders across the board will take more than just a welcome email and a few meetings. Here’s how to gear your company for innovation, from the newest team member to the senior C-suite.
Bring in The Highly Engaged
Every organization has people who give 110 percent and have a talent for motivating others. Some of them are leaders at the very top; others are the ones who stay late to help a co-worker with a project or who tirelessly lead the company charity initiative. No matter who they are, bringing them in first matters; they’re the ones who talk to everyone and who can help teams gather enthusiasm.
Another type of engagement is the folks who tackle a problem no matter how thorny. Your organization is likely full of natural problem solvers, and they should be on the team as well, not just providing the initial ideas but refining them throughout the process. Nor should they be pulled from just one department; having an entire team of problem-solvers working together often helps your organization tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Make Space for Innovation
Everybody in your team should have a little time each day that’s an empty space on their calendar. It could be early in the morning while having coffee, it could be right after lunch, or they could have a little time between projects. Give everyone the tools to carve out a little time to just sit and think.
Often the most effective innovation comes from two different perspectives intersecting; a customer speaks to somebody in a department to whom they don’t usually talk or two departments that rarely meet wind up together for some reason. Enabling communication between departments, executives, and customers on a regular basis and encouraging spontaneous encounters allows those viewpoints to touch and often serve as steel and flint for new ideas.
Foster Innovation in All Forms
When discussing innovation strategy, don’t forget incremental innovation. Somebody who wants to fix a minor pain point in your organization can be potentially just as powerful as the thinkers staring over the horizon. Furthermore, addressing smaller points as well as the big picture stuff tells everyone that you’re listening and that their thoughts matter. Often, tiny innovations can set the stage for larger breakthroughs; less time spent on minor irritations can be time spent on innovating.
Finally, it’s useful to be transparent in your process. If an idea ultimately doesn’t pan out, it should be easy for everyone to grasp why and apply that to their next round of innovations. Understanding not just the process, but the limitations, can often be a useful spark, and documenting the steps an idea took can help innovators better understand the perspectives of different stakeholders.
It’s also an effective way to show who contributes what to the process and to honor the hard work that goes into it. Innovating is fun, creative work, but it is work. When you respect that effort, it inspires your team to put more energy into the next round.
Need help inspiring your team to innovate? Contact us to learn more about innovation management software.