A few weeks ago I went to Seattle for an Innovation Forum. This event was hosted by a company that sells a crowd sourcing platform to help drive innovation in companies. A company utilizes their platform to put out a challenge, sometimes company wide and other times to small groups of select candidates. After people submit their innovative ideas to solve the challenge, the company compiles the ideas, selects the most promising one and then tries to develop a prototype.
As I sat in this forum and learned more about this platform and how it works, it made me think a lot about leadership and teamwork. Though the platform aids the ability to crowdsource ideas and execute the best ones, it takes more than a great idea or vision to turn it into a reality. It also takes great leadership and teamwork. So what are the elements an organization needs in order to encourage innovation?
#1 Stakeholder buy-in: All to often I see organizations create innovation teams that asks their employees to come up with new and innovative ideas. The employees work hard to come up with new ideas that they present to their stakeholders just to find out there is no budget to execute them. In this moment, not only does the idea die but often so does the motivation of the employee and the team that worked so hard to come up with this idea. My first advice is if you want more innovation from your employees, before challenging them, ensure there is a budget to execute a great idea.
#2 Psychological Safety: Innovation comes when employees and teams feel they are safe to try, fail, and learn. Innovation doesn’t come without bumps in the road. For employees to feel safe, they need to be a part of a team that supports and encourages new ideas. Employees need to feel as though they can trust and rely on their team as opposed to receiving judgement and ridicule. When an employee feels safe to be creative and speak freely about their ideas, the more ideas they will share and the more opportunities there will be for innovation.
#3 Know your Strengths: The person that comes up with the idea isn’t always the best at executing the idea. Once an idea is decided upon and funded, don’t leave them to their own demise to figure out how to execute the idea. Help them create the team they need to bring that idea into fruition. Remember, it wasn’t Steve Jobs that made it all happen. He was merely the idea guy.
These are just a few of the main ingredients needed to help an organization breed innovation. Though a innovation platform like the one I learned about it is helpful, innovation involves so much more. If you or your organization is looking to innovate or come up with new ideas to improve your business, I want to chat with you. Let me help you create an environment for innovation to thrive.