Have you ever heard of stem cells? Wi-Fi? The iPhone? The printing press? Penicillin? The radio? Every one of these inventions came from the innovation of its creator(s). The term “cutting edge” means to be on the forefront of what’s new and thoughtful in an industry. Innovation differs slightly from creativity in that innovation has to do with actually controlling the ideas enough to make them a reality. In order to help your company maintain its edge in the face of competition, do what you can to promote innovation within the workplace, moving beyond simply encouraging creativity.
- Allow time for it to happen. When employees have their days so filled with obligations, deadlines and projects that they barely have time to eat lunch, much less scribble an idea on a napkin, their minds don’t have time to focus on innovations. During the day or week, schedule time for brainstorming sessions, remembering that some of the best ideas come from collaboration and new perspectives. Or put “idea” boxes around the workplace, encourage innovation to solve old problems, and always keep your door open, literally and figuratively, for employees to share their thoughts with you.
- Promote teamwork. To continue with that theme, encourage collaboration and an open exchange — sometimes rewards for new ideas actually discourage innovation because employees worry about someone stealing their vision, so they keep it to themselves. But team sessions with shared ideas allow employees to throw out their ideas in a shared environment and encourage their teammates to add to the original thought, maybe even adding a dimension the originator hadn’t considered.
- Let mistakes happen. The 3M Company encouraged its employees to visit other departments to see what they were doing. So when Art Fry attended colleague Spencer Silver’s 1974 seminar attempting to sing the praises of his new, weak adhesive and its potential properties, he saw what others didn’t. He demonstrated how it kept his bookmark from falling out of his hymnal, creating the first Post-It. Let your employees take some calculated risks and let them learn from their errors instead of penalizing them for making a mistake.
- Allow a break from tradition. Innovation doesn’t happen when everything stays rote and “this is the way we’ve always done it.” So let things get messy — encourage employees to take that brainstorming session outside or let them have a long lunch away from the office. If possible, create a break space that has more than just a table and chairs; some offices install game tables or even video game systems to allow employees to work off some stress and get the creative juices flowing. Be like 3M and have departments visit each other so they brainstorm together.
When you make room for innovation, you’ll naturally foster an atmosphere of employees not afraid to think outside the box and add to each other’s ideas. When you use PrideStaff Thousand Oaks to find your next hire, you’re thinking outside the box as well. Contact our experienced Thousand Oaks staffing professionals today!