A growth set up in a workplace goes hand in hand with the innovation that acts as a base for every employer to build upon.
Every time a new work culture is introduced to the foray of existing, it tends to act as a domino effect towards introducing a term that is suddenly instilled within the work culture. The crowning glory in recent times would be the omnipresent "Innovation".
Innovation in its entirety means to introduce a new idea in the form of a device or method. As the market has shifted from one being of needs to one being of wants it has become imperative that every service or product holds a solution that caters to an existing need, an unarticulated need or an essential new problem.
Factors which hamper workplace innovation surprisingly have little to no effect on the bigger picture. For example, having a defined timeline for a particular task may be right for that task to be completed but one acts as if the time is short because there is a deadline. The thing to remember is every person has exactly the same amount of time to plan and execute.
How do you bring about innovation?
The aspect to understand here is that innovation isn't something that you can just expect from someone sitting in the workspace. An environment needs to be created which facilitates the process leading to innovation.
Understanding The Employees
The first and foremost factor in fostering innovation is the motivation and commitment of employees. To create a sustainable culture of innovation the employees need to be happy and committed to bringing out about results. How do you motivate employees so that they look forward to innovating?
Unstructured Time Policy
A time policy essentially kills innovation as the fear of deviation from the work set up would result in getting in trouble. With the enforcement of an unstructured policy will lead to the employees dedicating a certain percentage of time towards innovating without repercussions.
Collaboration Vs Competition
Innovation is not a single man job. Every company for longevity and ensuring growth goes through a period of trying to figure out the competition vs collaboration dilemma. Competition acts as a great motivation whereas collaboration is the hub of new ideas as well as polishing off existing ones. Herein lies the catch, how does one collaborate without killing a healthy sense of competition.
Differentiating between personal growth and facilitating collaboration can only happen if proper channels are provided to the employees and executives which encourage collaboration and erase worries associated with the cutthroat competition that exists. A channel eases the problem on most employees mind about loss of control and losing out on opportunities due to non-reception of credit for their ideas.
Companies tend to hire images of their leaders but that disintegrates the structure. If everyone thinks along the same line how is one supposed to work in an innovative fashion?
A true team is one which sticks together in spite of, or rather with a diverse set of views. A diverse team is one which not only from different departments but rather one which consists of a different worldview. Here an open mind ideology needs to be cultivated. One which promotes people to be more tolerant as well as listen rather than talk.
A synergetic work environment is automatically created with the help of diversity.
Encourage Free Thought
Hierarchy within the workspace exists to ensure that work is being done an who's decision is final and no arguments about it. But for the betterment of the organization, one thing needs to be understood i.e. you're running a company and not an army. Allowing employees to express their thoughts is important for skills like critical thinking and argument, all important for decision making.
For innovation to be the driving force behind your company, decision-making skills need to be cultivated. Free thought is what is at the core of actions and for idea generation and implementation, a need exists for ensuring every employee is empowered enough to able to make decisions on their own without interference from the executives along every step the way. For a process to be better, a person within it needs to be the one to create a change as nobody can understand a problem better than the one experiencing it.
Let Designing be a Playground
The toothpaste industry in the 1950's reached a saturation point, but with a small innovative change that did not even come from a designer which was increasing the diameter hole from 4mm to 6mm lead to a distinctive rise in revenue.
The allocation of certain roles to certain appointments is important to fulfill the day to day function of businesses but when it comes to the field of innovation, crossing domains help. A fresh pair of eyes leads to the development of a new perspective towards a product, process or service.
The core of all innovation lies in a fresh perspective every time a product is seen or used. Holding innovation conferences within the workspace would help as when people from different domains will interact with the creation of a new design will take place.
Pair Up Juniors and Seniors
The eternal fight between experience and a fresh mind is not something we want to debate on but instead concentrating what is better, pairing them together can work to the advantage of the company.
What a company has done before, might have worked before but in a highly dynamic world today disregarding a new idea without logical justification is not a bright move.
A cross-generational pairing, especially in a smaller setup, helps break down hierarchies and establish a flat structure. This makes employees feel heard and appreciated. The balance of these pairing is what fosters innovation. A senior has a wealth of niche industry-specific knowledge whereas the newer hires will always be able to provide the application in recent times both essential towards ensuring an innovate solution to any issue.
The core of innovation has always been collaboration and a flat structure is known to foster collaboration while maintaining a certain degree of competition.
Innovation Doesn't Need a Starting Point
Innovation is something that may just appear out of thin air without any long term planning. Innovation hour is a concept which has been used by some of the biggest companies worldwide. Apple has the Blue Sky, which lets employees work on pet projects and Microsoft has The Garage which lets them leverage in house products to create their own project. What this does is helps employees know they are respected enough to let their personal growth be of some importance to the company too.
In such a case even employees without any idea are capable enough to innovate and come up with better strategies if for nothing else their personal growth. As the business world grows and the considerable people who have the skills and techniques to actually propel forward enter it becomes imperative that they feel wanted in the company.
Make Distraction a Tool
A team is an entity that exists beyond the office space too. The understanding of this concept is what has been so vague in the past couple of years. Leaving work between the four walls of the workspace is one thing, but leaving the team behind is what creates disastrous effects. We are humans and run very high on the emotional bonds we end up creating. It this bonding that drives us to work together. Whether it be a rivalry or a friendship within the workspace the understanding that the bonds exist is the driving force behind the functioning.
Distraction might seem like the biggest hindrance to work but if seen from an outside perspective the embracing of this distraction is what makes people create some of their best work. Organic discussions regarding things beyond the workspace create a platform to generate insights and work together in a better fashion.
Online has connected every employee on a scale that didn't exist before. Its a great leap in working but has also created a set of disadvantages namely the constant online traffic is. giving ideas but not the tools of application. There is always a better idea out there but no check on if it helps your company. Encouraging brainstorming sessions offline gives a perspective unique to the product or service being handled by you. Understanding innovation isn't just the application of new ideas but the betterment of existing ones lets employees come up with solutions that fit with your work culture.
The principles of company innovation culture aren't all that different from that of personal growth. Every company needs to understand that tapping into an employees knowledge bank is what drives innovation. Instead of focusing on the hard deliverables it is important to see what people are bringing to the table on a singular level. The innovation culture is what has propelled most companies to achieve the global recognition they enjoy now. BuzzFeed once known for nothing better than their fluff pieces and viral videos has now become a reinvented source of hard-hitting news.
The sudden global expansion of most brands can be attributed to catering for employees who felt like they had the free will to create and explore options to create something better to the masses. If handled with care, sharable skills within your team can be easily identified and cultivated to increase engagement, development and above all innovation. The bottom line always remains that cultivation of all these attributes helps everyone, the business as well as the employees.
Innovation at the workplace is a constant goal and brings out a lot of fruitful results for your company, for your employees and most significantly for your clients. Inhibiting the culture and the kind of work that happens around the organization lies solely on the way an organization functions and maybe not today but tomorrow you will have to change.