When considering what makes a company innovative, it’s tempting to picture staff dreaming up crazy new ideas while playing ping pong or relaxing in a bean bag. It’s often believed that creating a relaxed, unconventional atmosphere is the best way to generate results.
But, while having a Google or Facebook-like office layout and atmosphere clearly pays dividends for some companies, certain rituals are also very important. It might sound counter-intuitive to link rituals with innovation, but experience shows the two actually go hand-in-hand.
By ritualising innovation it can form part of an organisation’s DNA. Rather than being something that’s only done from time to time, it becomes a fundamental component of day-to-day life for all staff.
Eight ways to create innovations rituals within your organisation are:
1. Ensure strong leadership
All staff need to understand that a culture of innovation is supported from the very top. Senior management must be clearly supportive of the initiative and communicate the benefits it will bring for the entire organisation. This will help to ensure all staff members make it a ritualised part of their everyday activity and not simply regard it as a one-off or short-term activity.
Great leaders have a knack for creating an environment where people can expose their intelligence and make better decisions, however achieving this requires a deliberate approach … and this approach must start at the top.
2. Shift to dynamic processes owned by teams
For innovation to flourish, dynamic processes will be needed to ensure ideas are captured, evaluated and put into action. Process owners should be appointed who can ensure these key steps are followed and all ideas are considered.
When forming teams, it’s also important to involve people from different departments across the organisation. Cross pollination can stimulate fresh perspectives and new ideas. Someone from accounts can shine a new light on marketing, while staff in a warehouse might have great ideas about new products. You never know where the next innovative spark might come from.
3. Try, fail, learn, and try again
Staff should be encouraged to try new ideas and not be afraid of failure. Not every innovative idea will be a winner, but by trying, failing and learning, you can move on and improve every time. The most successful organisations are those that continue to try new things.
4. Create heroes to inspire and go viral!
Always be sure to publicly acknowledge innovative ideas and the people who create them. By holding them up as examples of what can be achieved, you will encourage others to take similar steps. Acknowledgement ensures the culture of innovation becomes strong across the organisation.
5. Collect, evaluate, track wins
Keep a central register of ideas brought forward by the teams, and the results those ideas deliver. This will provide a reminder of just how much innovation is occurring within the organisation and help to maintain momentum.
6. Conduct solution sessions run by the teams
These provide an opportunity for teams to explain their ideas and innovations to others in the organisation. As well as providing recognition for achievements, these sessions can in turn stimulate further ideas.
7. Measure team engagement and job satisfaction, not just outcomes
While fresh, innovative ideas are the goal, ensuring those involved are fully engaged in the process is also critical. Regularly survey staff involved in teams to determine how satisfied they are with processes and the outcomes they are achieving. This will also be a good way to identify any issues that might be constraining innovation and need to change.
8. Make time for trust building
All work and no play doesn’t help to stimulate innovation! Ensure teams take regular time out to engage in a social atmosphere. As well as making them feel like valued members of the organisation, this can help strengthen teams and lead to even better outcomes.
Remember that clear, senior leadership is one of the most critical factors that drives true innovation. When people know they are being supported from the top, they are more likely to remain engaged and motivated.
It’s also important to ensure that innovation involves everyone within the organisation. It’s not the exclusive domain of select teams or senior groups. New, valuable ideas can come from anywhere.
Finally, don’t forget about execution. Even the best innovative ideas do nothing if they only remain as ideas. Assess all that come up and put the very best into action. The results may be beyond everyone’s expectations.