Over the years, I’ve worked with many organisations that claim Innovation as a core value. Yet, when I ask them how their teams demonstrate innovation in action, they often draw a blank. In other words, they like the idea of innovation, they’re just not sure what it looks like in practice.
If you want your company values to be more than words on a page, you need to get clear about how you would recognise them in action. What does being innovative look like? How would an innovative company respond to *this* situation? What practical steps can you take to encourage innovative thinking on a day-to-day basis?
If your organisation claims Innovation as a core value, here are 3 things you can do to bring that value to life:
1. Build Failure into the Budget
Create budgets that provide plenty of room for failure, and then give people permission to try new concepts without expectation of success. When budgets are super-tight and every cent counts, people feel restricted to options that feel safe and familiar. If you want people to innovate, give them a failure budget and give them permission to either win—or learn. Innovation thrives in an environment where things don’t have to work perfectly the first time around.
2. Problem Solve Regularly
Host a regular meeting specifically for addressing key business challenges and invite anyone in the company to attend, regardless of position. Practice generating ideas using creativity tools and agree to test out at least one possible solution before the next meet-up. Try, test, try again.
3. Encourage Passion Projects
Encourage team members to choose an area of the business they are passionate about and allow them an hour each week to explore ways they could make it better. At the end of each quarter, ask team members to present their ideas to the rest of the team—then, say yes to as much of it as you can.
Innovation requires time to think and courage to act. If your organisation claims to value innovation, then you must create an environment that not only allows it, but encourages it. That means getting comfortable with failure and ring-fencing time and resources to intentionally innovate.