Listen to the podcast (approximately 6 minutes).
- Benchmark today’s innovation culture,
- Ensure that the innovation strategy is well understood, and
- Continually search for new ideas.
This week we continue the top ten list with suggestions for training, tools, and communication.
Ten Ways to Build a Culture of Innovation
You can download the full list of ten ways to build a culture of innovation here.
Innovation Training Presents a Holistic View
Most people will admit to having passed by their most creative years in life. That’s because most people think they were creative in elementary school. Not true!
We are all creative beings but we’ve been influenced by peers (especially as teenagers) as well as society to hold back and to conform. Innovation training can help you and your employees to connect with your “inner child” and learn to let creative ideas bubble to the surface.
Innovation training involves learning about the firm’s strategy (see Planning an Innovation Program) as well as brainstorming new ideas (see Three Innovation Myths). As a starting point, new product development professional (NPDP) training exposes innovation team members to a holistic view of innovation from idea to commercialization. Learning about innovation stimulates creative thinking about current problems.
Technical and Business Training Motivate Employees
Training for a successful innovation culture includes innovation training in addition to technical and business training. Subject matter experts should be encouraged to attend industry trade shows and association conferences. Exposing employees to new and different perspectives within their field of expertise will lead them to identify novel and unique solutions to even the most vexing problems.
Moreover, when subject matter experts interact with colleagues in their fields, they can learn new competitive approaches as well as build collaborative relationships with leading industry experts. Many firms today hire for technical positions through internal references rather than job board postings. Subject matter expert relationships with other experts can lead the firm to better employee identification and retention. Happier employees are more creative.
Intranet Discussion Forums offer Creative Collaboration
Innovation and creativity are usually unscheduled and unexpected. Successful innovation cultures provide tools for employees, and even customers, to share ideas. Simple internet (or intranet) tools, like discussion boards and social media sites, can encourage collaboration among innovators.
Many companies fail to utilize the entire capability of their email programs, but it’s fairly easy to set up discussion forums and shared contact lists so that new product development (NPD) teams can build ideas together. Management should encourage creative collaboration and reward group performance appropriately.
Communicate Innovation Success
As in tip #2 to build a culture of innovation, ensuring open and honest communication is key to building a successful culture of innovation. Communication of the innovation strategy to all levels in the organization is a starting point. Note that such communication should include understanding and endorsement by the organization.
Next, the firm should communicate innovation successes through public recognition, including formal meetings and publications like email blasts and newsletters. Remember that some innovation successes are big (revenue for a new product) and some are small (a positive test result), yet all are important accomplishments for the NPD team members.
Communication for innovation success can also include a call for ideas, sharing technical information at an internal innovation fair, and sharing the state of the business.
Looking Ahead to Build a Culture of Innovation
Last week we shared three ways to build a culture of innovation by focusing on the highest levels – benchmarking and strategy. This week, we introduced four more ways to encourage creativity in the workforce. First, innovation training builds a foundation for NPD. Next, continuing technical and business training gives experts an opportunity to learn the latest information in their fields and to collaborate with other specialists and thought leaders.
Then, we discussed tools (like internet discussion forums) that can increase creative collaboration among employees and customers alike. Finally, communicating innovation successes motivates NPD teams to continually search for innovation opportunities. Next week, we’ll wrap up with the remaining top ten ways to build a culture of innovation.
Tools and techniques to enhance success of innovation are wide and varied. Some of the most common success metrics are discussed in our NPDP certification workshops and describe how the most innovative companies are able to implement innovation strategies with long-term profits. If you have any questions or comments regarding innovation or new product development, please feel free to contact Global NP Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 281-280-8717.
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