Want More Innovation? Focus on the Team

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In a recent post on Innovation Weekly, Tamara Chandour noted that “team innovation is the secret sauce to a business’s success.” As we discuss in some of our vistage CEo meetings, that means, removing the barriers and getting a team to innovate on a regular basis, not just at creative off-site meetings once a quarter. It means creating a culture of supporting innovators and understanding when you need to nurture them. Companies like 3M, Google and Intuit and start with the individual – giving each 15-20% time to be innovative – and then allowing them to form teams to use the time to experiemnt. Working with clients at LaunchStreet she found 7 ways to encourage innovation that have big pay off. That encouragement becomes the invisible cultural glue that creates real empowerment and motivation to act within your team.

  1. Give Risk A Name:Risk shuts down a lot of innovation efforts. The fear of failure takes over and innovation is shut down. Talking about risk actually minimizes the fear factor as people realize the perceived risk isn’t nearly as bad as their imagination makes it out to be. Talk about it, say it out loud, give it a name.
  2. Reward Behavior:If you want to encourage innovation, reward the behaviors that generate it.
  3. Test to Discover:Nothing satisfies the creative spirit like bringing your ideas to life. All too often innovation gets shut down by the all-or-none mentality. Testing fosters optimized ideas and more investment in innovation overall.
  4. Make Space, Not Meetings:People need space to innovate – not long-draw out meetings.
  5. Empower Them:Part of the reason your team doesn’t innovate is that they simply don’t know how. Perhaps they’ve been told they aren’t innovative or they’ve shoved their innovative side in a drawer for so long they forgot how to use it. If you want to encourage innovation with your teams, help them understand how they innovate.
  6. Challenge Everyone, Not Titles:You’d be amazed where a good idea can come from. And usually, it’s not where you think.  several companies seeking new algorithms (e.g., Netflix) find that the wiiners of their contest are people NOT related to their industry.  Fresh perspectives, like those Vistage members provide each other during their monthly meetings, can make all the difference.
  7. Be Consistent:. Make innovation part of their job responsibilities and daily tasks, not something you do at an occassional innovation event.

What are you going to do in your company is 2019 to encourage more innovation?. If you want better results, you can’t do same-old-same-old. Share with us.