Innovation isn’t just about creating new products or developing a new design. Innovation also plays a key role in employee engagement, customer satisfaction and company success. Here are five things you can do to drive innovation in your organization.
1. Encourage Story Telling. Employees that are more engaged are also more innovative. So, how can we create more engaged employees? Ask them to tell stories, says Russell Goldsmith of City National Bank in Los Angeles. To encourage story telling, City National Bank hosts an annual Story Idol competition in which employees compete to win prizes for the best storytelling that reinforces the company’s culture. Read more about how storytelling helps engage employees.
2. Think Outside the Job. Even when employees are engaged, more money or better benefits can make top talent walk away from an organization. An innovative approach to retaining talent: look to win over not only the employee, but their significant other as well. In an effort to do that, Evernote provides house cleaning services and other “outside-the-box” benefits for all employees every other week. Read about their innovative approach to benefits.
3. Learn to Grow Ideas. What helps these leaders create such innovative solutions? And, in turn, what might hold us back from being innovative? Accepting the first idea that comes along will kill innovation, as will an unwillingness to generate a lot of ideas that will never be used. Tina Seelig has seen this over and over again in twelve years of teaching a course on creativity and innovation at Stanford.
4. Accept and Learn From Failure. Yes, innovation requires that we accept failure. In her book inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, Seelig offers insights and advice about how imagination, knowledge base, attitude and habitat can positively and negatively impact our approach to creativity.
5. Let the Ideas Flow. As Seelig says, “Creativity is not just something you think about. It’s something you do.” The same goes for innovation. Don’t waste too much time pondering how to be innovative. Just let the ideas flow. You may be surprised where those ideas lead you.
Other resources about innovation:
Free Your Frontline Workers to Innovate (blog post)
The Killer Question: How to Spark Innovation (article)
Inside Amazon’s Idea Machine: How Bezos Decodes the Customer (article)