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How to create an innovation culture
Innovation can help your brand reach the next level
Think of some of the most recognizable brands of this day and age: Apple. Netflix. Tesla. Amazon. Spotify. What do these companies have in common? Yes, all these companies are now worth a good sum of money, but before that, they all relied on one thing: innovation in the workplace.
Not just innovation, strategic innovation. These companies and their leaders realized that they could add value to people’s lives in a new, improved and meaningful way. Are you looking for ways to create an innovation culture in the workplace? Here’s how you can shift gears to attain strategic success.
What is innovation culture?
Innovation culture redefines risk. Instead of operating on a fear of failure, a culture based on innovation understands how to use fear in a way that supports success. Team members are not afraid to make mistakes because they know that setbacks lead to even greater successes. These workplaces are on the cutting edge of technology and know that keeping up with their customer’s lives and needs is at the heart of their growth. Management in an innovation culture does not punish mistakes. Instead, it encourages team members to take chances and always strive to get to the next level.
Why is innovation important in culture?
Not focusing on strategic innovation means your company will lose relevance. You can only prevent disruption by competitors by prioritizing your own business’ continuous improvement, updating your services and finding new ways to address your customers’ changing needs. An innovation culture is one based on anticipation. If you do not find a way to anticipate potential business problems and turn them into opportunities, you run the risk of being blindsided by an obstacle that could take your business down.
Being known as a company with innovation culture is also a strong way to attract the right employees to build a team that works. Those who are hungry for success and have the brightest minds want to work for companies that will let them innovate and take calculated risks.
Identify your purpose to create an innovation culture
Want to create this type of environment at your company? It’s helpful to look at examples of innovation culture in the workplace to get ideas, but first you need to determine your purpose as an organization. Ask yourself: What business are you in? How do you bring value to the lives of your customers? What can your brand do that no other brand can? How do you create customer loyalty? What makes you talkably different?
Answering these questions thoroughly might take a few days or weeks, but the answers you’ll find are crucial to understanding how to create an innovation culture in the workplace. Give yourself time to think about the true mission of your organization and how it relates to your customers. You must understand what you’re doing from a traditional viewpoint in order to introduce innovation.
Next, identify any roadblocks in your way. Do you need to hire a larger sales or marketing team in order to bolster growth? Are you harboring limiting beliefs about yourself that are preventing you from reaching your full potential? Are you too focused on competing instead of creating?
Focus on your customers to form an innovation culture
Marketing expert Jay Abraham suggests that innovation culture begins with gaining access to your clients. When your market isn’t working for you or your products or services don’t have value to the marketplace, your consumer has basically denied you access to their attention, interest and trust. They are not willing to engage and be vulnerable because they feel you are not aware of their needs and lifestyles. When this happens, you need to have constant awareness and a game plan capable of promoting consumer shifts. When you realize that your customer’s needs are always changing and that you must continually adapt to these needs, an innovation culture will naturally form. According to Jay, you will master the capabilities for being interesting, fascinating, uniquely appealing, highly educational and unparalleled in your communication.
Empower others as leaders to foster an innovation culture
The next thing to do is realize that good ideas can come from anywhere within your organization. Recognize that real leadership means encouraging innovation culture in the workplace from all staff and committing to positive change. To master how to encourage innovation and creativity, foster a culture that values creativity and proactively addresses corporate communication issues.
Encourage your employees to discuss their ideas with people in other departments and at different levels of the organization. This spreading of ideas can only lead to growth. Additionally, challenge your team to think of themselves as leaders. Every person at the company has leadership potential, not just the managers and executives. There are many types of leadership styles, so learn how to recognize the signs of different leaders and encourage them to find ways to share their ideas in a positive, encouraging environment. By allowing staff at all levels of your company to contribute and thrive, you’ll become adept at encouraging innovation culture.
Establish a brain trust to ignite innovation
Jay Abraham believes that most business owners suffer from tunnel vision. They begin to think in a narrow way because they are only exposing themselves to others who think in the same manner. To break out of this and begin thinking outside the box, they must establish a brain trust of those who have a different perspective and who can help them see opportunities and obstacles they are unaware of. Successful business marketing and creating innovation culture is about connecting – connecting with your team, connecting with your customers and connecting with those who you can learn from. When you form a brain trust, you expand what you see as possible and find new solutions to old problems. You develop mentors and confidantes that not only help you create an innovation culture in the workplace, but who can also help you through rough patches and celebrate with you when you succeed.
Focus on the future to encourage innovation culture
There’s no point in putting extensive work into creating an innovation culture if you don’t have a powerful vision for the future of your company. It all comes back to what business you’re in. If you’re in the fitness clothing industry, you’re not just selling fitness apparel; you’re empowering others to feel their best, inside and out. You’re encouraging your customers to live a healthy life so they can go on to achieve their goals. Remember that it’s not about selling – it’s about giving value.
The most powerful innovation culture examples are businesses that have found the true mission of their company and always keep it at the forefront of their minds. They visualize the end goal of what they want to do for their clients and operate as if they have already achieved that goal. When you make this your focus, you’ll be naturally inclined to strategically innovate because you’ll do whatever it takes to reach that goal.
Revisit your progress to drive innovation in the workplace
Your plan is in motion. You’re working well with your team and have an understanding of your future vision, as well as an idea of what it takes to add value to your customers’ lives. Now that you’re moving forward, be sure you’re making adequate progress along the way. Are you hitting goals you set for yourself and your team? Are you continuing to strategically innovate or have you reached a place of stagnation? Don’t be afraid to change course if something’s not working or if you determine a better way to achieve your goals. It can be time-consuming to do so, but by pursuing a continuous innovation culture now instead of letting opportunities pass you by later, you’ll be on track to succeed.
Innovation culture examples
Now that we’ve outlined a basic strategy, let’s look at a few examples of what an innovation culture in the workplace really looks like:
- Retains quality staff. One of the most basic-but-overlooked ideas for creating an innovation culture is improving quality staff retention by honoring employees’ emotional intelligence on the job. Employees are humans, and management practices that do not respect employees’ emotional needs create work environments that are emotionally and mentally difficult for most employees. You can lose your smartest, most talented workers if you’re not taking their emotional intelligence and needs into account. Rather than expecting too much of your staff, respect their emotional intelligence when you develop recruitment strategies and create your best practices in hiring and promoting.
- Embraces change. Change forces adaptation. That’s why change can be a key spark in creating an innovation culture. Embracing change means recognizing opportunities for adjustment, including internal and external business practices. It also means modeling to your employees that change is nothing to fear and will often lead to your company’s biggest breakthroughs. Leaning into opportunities for change is essential to successful innovation in the workplace.
- Facilitates professional development. When thinking about how to encourage innovation culture and creativity, real leaders are committed to their own professional and personal growth as well as their staff’s development opportunities. To facilitate the creation of an innovation culture in the workplace, make ongoing professional development part of your company’s policy. Consider what your staff really needs to grow and excel at their jobs and give them access to tools like podcasts, books and business coaches. When your staff is growing, your company is, too.
- Keeps innovation attached to your customer base. Make sure that your efforts at encouraging an innovation culture are attached to your product. Whatever the innovation, ensure that you and your staff strategize around the behavior of your customers. By facilitating innovation that is practical and customer-oriented, you ensure that the innovation serves your biggest priority: creating customers who are raving fans.
- Prioritizes. Instead of putting the creation of an innovation culture on the back burner, make it a priority. If you’re short on examples of innovation, find a way to use old, familiar resources for new purposes. As you demonstrate how to drive strategic innovation, you’ll become a living example of the values your company upholds.
Want to learn more about creating innovation culture? Attend Business Mastery, a five-day event hosted by Tony Robbins that delivers powerful messaging about what it takes for your brand to thrive in any market. With incredible speakers and actionable strategies, you’ll refine your skills and feel more prepared than ever to innovate.