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5 ways to nurture workplace innovation

5 ways to nurture workplace innovation

We all know creativity and innovative thinking is key when it comes to generating new services and product offerings… The difficulty is getting your team on board, and then bringing them with you. Which begs the question: what’s the best way to nurture innovation within a team environment?

I should preface this by saying there isn’t one ‘best way’ to go about this. Your approach will depend on the nature of your organisation and the people who work within it.

Which is why I’ve got 5 ideas for you to experiment with – as with most things in life, we don’t all like the same things – so I suggest a mix and match approach is best.  Work out your ‘why’, get to know the way your team works and then start implementing these tips.

It’s not a quick fix (process!) but you’ll end up with a unique innovation process that fits your company’s needs.

Culture is key.

“Everyone has huge creative capacities. The challenge is to develop them. A culture of creativity has to involve everybody, not just a select few.”

– Sir Ken Robinson (UK educationist) on promoting creativity.

Too right. But how do you get everyone involved?

1. Cross fertilisation

I’m talking about diverse teams here. Diverse thoughts. Diverse opinions. The goal is to create an environment where different people – from different backgrounds – can share different perspectives. 

For most, that means hiring differently. But what about the people already in your company? Have you thought about what people from other departments could bring to the table?

Your project officer might have some great product ideas and your finance director might have some awesome analytical insights to offer… 

But you won’t know until you ask them! So, why not invite them to the table?

2. Democratise the process

Innovation needs to be a democratic process if it’s to have any lasting impact. Your team needs to know that they will be supported and heard throughout the process… and that their ideas will be diligently considered.

So, that also means you need to: lead by example

If your colleagues are afraid to question your ideas because you’re ‘the boss’, what makes you think they’ll offer up their own?

Show them it’s acceptable (and encouraged) to think critically, ask thought-provoking questions and offer constructive feedback on any ideas that cross the table – including yours!

Unique perspectives, remember?

3. Mitigate bias…

… by developing an innovation process which is inclusive, creative and evidence based.

Refine your process: create evidence banks, test your solutions, interpret the data from different angles, focus on solving customer problems, and draw up a go-to-market plan.

Make sure everyone knows the steps you have to take to ensure your next idea is credible and profitable. These approaches should be an integral part of your innovation process.

4. Invest to grow

Investing in your team’s growth is a great way to nurture their workplace creativity. The aim is to create an inclusive, diverse and collaborative environment…

So, why not provide opportunities beyond what’s needed for their role? What are they interested in? Is there another area of the business they’d like to learn about? (This will also help with employee retention!)

It’s worth highlighting that investing in your employee’s development should not just be reserved for those who show ‘high potential’ (more on that another day though).

Investing in your team also means investing in them personally.

5. Innovation training

How many people in your team freeze when you say ‘give me some new ideas for XXX’? Most of them?

The reality is that most people won’t understand exactly what you’re expecting from them. 

‘New ideas’ are great, but you need to get specific: what aspects of XXX are you focused on? What problem are you trying to solve? Are you talking about a complete do-over? A simple tweak?

Break the issue down into bite-sized hurdles – lead your team through the whole journey from problem to resolution.

At Groundswell Innovation we often find that employees need to experience idea generation and innovation in a supportive environment, to get the ball rolling.

They need a guiding hand to break the process down, keep them accountable and show them how even the smallest of ideas can make for truly innovative solutions.

Need some guidance and training? Learn how to create a unique innovation process – the Groundswell way.

Get in touch with Jane! Send her an email via jane@groundswellinnovation.co.uk

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