Innovation refers to something new – it can be a product, a service or a new process that has been implemented to help in streamlining a task or an activity. There’s no denying that innovation has become important to businesses and organisations, whether large or small, with the hope that developments will lead to greater efficiency and productivity.
Yet the unfortunate reality is that there are many companies stuck in their ways because they are afraid of change. So how does a business effectively encourage innovation and manage the resulting changes that may be needed?
True innovation requires significant investment of time, resources and a willingness from management to be prepared to embrace changes.
Hire creative people
Don’t underestimate the importance of hiring people who are creative, can inspire change and lead the process of innovation. How do you know if someone is a creative when you are hiring? It has to be someone who is different from you. To innovate, you have to hire misfits who sometimes make you feel uncomfortable with their controversial ideas.
Nurture an open environment
If you give employees autonomy it allows them to work outside the box and take the opportunity to think creatively. Creative people do not like to be micromanaged, so it’s important to leave them relatively unsupervised and give them the freedom to create.
Failure is part of innovation. Allowing a culture where failed experiments are tolerated is essential. If employees faced penalties for failed projects, they would be discouraged from taking the innovation initiative.
Be prepared to offer rewards if a project succeeds – this will incentivise people to try new things. Rewards can be in the form of financial benefits, power and autonomy or flexibility in terms of work schedules.
Professor Vangelis Souitaris, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Cass Business School