Innovation advances your company towards the future – generating new products or services, boosting profits and increasing stakeholder value. To develop Innovation, the first step is to Inspire and Initiate your organization’s members. Innovation leaders need to provide the right support, both material and emotional, to stimulate new product development (NPD).
What are effective methods of inspiring innovation? For starters, keep the idea highway open to all. Good ideas can come from anywhere within your company and from any level. Communicate your innovation goals to the organization and encourage everyone’s feedback. Setting regular monthly in-person NPD meetings will ensure that the innovation process doesn’t fall off course. Hold your team members accountable for attending on time and actively participating at each meeting. Monitor progress, make new decisions and set target goals for the next meeting to steer the innovation process along.
The best way to stimulate innovation is to take team members out of their regular comfort zones. Knock down silos in the organization so that groups who don’t typically interact can form cross-functional teams. Take innovation champions from marketing, operations, finance, sales, customer service – or any other department of your company – and communicate to them simply and clearly your innovation goals and how your vision will shape the future of the company. By working with other departments, team members can see how their position fits into the organization as a whole and how they can contribute their specialized knowledge.
Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization and in order to achieve it, CEOs and management teams should lead by example. Encourage, inspire and initiate your team to be creative and to make breakthroughs. Let them dare to take risks, and accept failure along the way as a minor setback for the price of Innovation. By openly communicating and providing ample support, your team members will trust in you as a leader who wants to inspire a culture of Innovation.
Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival”, with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).