In my last article "Can companies innovate faster than startups?", I explained how to take your first steps in the world of innovation as a company. However, it is important to understand that your strength of innovation does not lie in your company, but in each of your employees.
So how can we make your employees innovative? Here are my 6 best practices.
1 - Create a sense of urgency
All your employees need to understand very clearly how innovation is a necessity, and how the "innovative" version of your company will produce more value than the old one. Without this common feeling about the need to innovate, innovation will never be taken seriously and you will not be able to achieve convincing results over the long term. Then two situations may arise. Either your company is actually in the phase of decline, and in this case your employees have already understood this need for innovation. Either this is not the case, and you will have create artificially this sense of urgency.
2 - Stimulate motivation around innovation
As Dan Pink explains in his book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," the technique of "carrot and stick" is not viable in the long run. On the contrary, if you wish to infuse a powerful and sustainable motivation for innovation throughout your company, you must integrate the following three elements:
- Autonomy: the ability to choose how to perform its tasks
- Mastery: being able to constantly learn new things
- Purpose: to act and to have an impact on something that surpasses us, greater than ourselves
3 - Identify the best opportunities
We live in a world full of opportunities. And you can't have your finger in more than one pie or you will leave your employees out of breath. It will therefore be necessary to focus your effort only on high-impact opportunities (income, psychological, visibility, etc.). Then communicate a lot on these first victories to stimulate your employees by showing them that they can reproduce the same pattern.
4 - Accelerate your performance
nnovation creates value only when it comes to life. Until there is evidence to the contrary, it has never been possible to get profit from a wall full of Post-Its. And there is nothing better to kill the motivation of your employees than ideas that never materialize. Realization is therefore essential to the sustainability of your innovation efforts.
Ensure that the selected projects are properly funded and implemented within a reasonable timeframe, communicate the results to the stakeholders. Unfortunately, I regularly see companies that unintentionally stifle their innovation efforts because of their slowness and bureaucracy. It is therefore your responsibility to identify potential obstacles and remove the most critical ones.
5 - Watch & Measure
Just like the environment in which you operate today, innovation is constantly moving. You can't manage the innovation in "autopilot" mode. It is important for you to set up metrics of action (not vanity please) to regularly measure and improve the performance of your innovation process.
6 - Keep the Flame Alive
Your innovation initiative will quickly lose its momentum if your words and commitments are not supported by concrete actions and results. As you create this innovation flame, you must constantly maintain it so that it is always considered as a priority. It is therefore extremely important to constantly communicate the impact of your actions and the importance of innovation, otherwise your innovation flame will be extinguished.