In the last few years, innovation has become increasingly important, with the rise of outsourcing, and companies being forced to become tighter due to the global recession.
People understand that they need to be innovative, they’re just not sure how or where to start.
Start at the top. If the CEO, and the other executives don’t believe in innovation, and don’t promote innovation, it will never happen. It needs to trickle down from the top.
The important thing is, to create a culture that fosters innovation within the workplace. Purina is a great example of a company that fosters innovation properly. They have created an innovation team, made up of employees from different departments across the organization, specifically dedicated to innovation. It is clear that senior management is serious about fostering innovation at Purina, and ultimately I think they will be rewarded for their efforts, through increased revenue/profit.
Google is another great example of a company that fosters innovation, with their 20% time program. The way this program works, is that 20% of a Google employees’ work week is spent on something that interests them. It gives them a chance to try new things, and explore different possibilities, and be innovative. The results have been spectacular. Gmail, Google News, Google Maps, Orkut, and Google Earth, are all pet projects of employees during their 20% time.
Upper management should be encouraging employees to start to be a little more creative on their free time. They can offer rewards, and incentivize the process, but ultimately the pride that comes with impressing your manager with a good idea is often more than enough.
I think it’s important for organizations to remove the fear factor when it comes to innovation. Let your stakeholders know that they can make mistakes without being penalized. If you knew that you could be as free, and creative as you’d like, with no repercussions, it would create a more open, and therefore innovative atmosphere.
If organizations can find a way to create an environment for employees to explore freely, the outcomes will be incredible. You will receive new, creative, good ideas. That is guaranteed.
Jake Shriar is the VP of Marketing for BrainBank Inc. Prior to joining BrainBank, Jake was the Founder and CEO of Smart Guy Media, a social media marketing company.