There’s a wealth of knowledge out there that can make your business, but it can break it if you’re not among the first to act on it. According to a survey from Tech Pro Research, 92 percent of respondents believe that innovation is either somewhat important or very important to the immediate success of a company.

Stagnation sets in with the absence of innovation and progression. As business owners with quotas to meet, sales targets to hit, and orders to fill, it can be a struggle to find time for new ideas. But when you spread the load across your whole team, chances of success grow exponentially. Here are six ideas to use to promote innovation in your business or workplace.

Market Research

innovationThis is not your typical market research method of hiring a firm. What you’re looking for are first-hand experiences from your team members at businesses with similar structures or in the same industry. If you’re in the restaurant business, encourage your team members to visit the competitors to see what they do well. For service-related industries like auto repair centers, perhaps you’ll pay for someone’s oil change to ‘spy’ on the competition’s practices. Product developers can purchase several competing products and have their team test them.

The idea is to hone your own service or product or spark a thought process that can accelerate your business growth.

Brainstorming Sessions

Forget the boring boardroom sit-downs to scratch out thoughts on paper. Many of the best ideas come when team members are relaxed and engaged with each other. It happens over drinks after work or hanging out around the ‘water cooler’, wherever that meeting point may be in your workplace.

Brainstorming works best when your staff members feel comfortable telling you about pain points. Encourage honest feedback without becoming defensive.

Send Team Members to Conferences

Everyone’s heard of TEDx – conferences about ‘Technology, Entertainment, and Design’. These events and others like them offer a venue where thought-provoking topics and ideas flow from brilliant minds. It might seem like a TED Talk or TEDxAtlanta event isn’t applicable to your industry, and often they aren’t. However, what may be most beneficial about this type of forum is the provocation of new thoughts and ideas. Don’t be surprised when your team members come back to you saying, “I heard about X at the TED Talk, and it got me thinking. Why don’t we…”

Co-Working Spaces

innovationEspecially for workplaces with plenty of office space, it can seem wasteful and unnecessary to work offside. However, co-working spaces like Strongbox West are an incubator for innovation. Often new ideas are incubated in co-working spaces like this where creative minds begin to converse and collaborate. In many co-working spaces, workshops are available to tinker with tech that may not be on hand in your workplace.

It’s pricey to have a monthly subscription to co-working facilities, but day passes are quite reasonable. One idea is to encourage each team member to use a co-working space once or twice per month…on your dime, of course.

Encourage Online Research and Work-Related Browsing

Today’s employers are filtering available online content in the workplace to prevent distractions, but it stifles innovation at the same time. Keep browsers open for your staff with the express knowledge that it’s for work-related purposes. Whether it’s checking competitors online or seeking solutions to a problem, or to find inspiration for their job, encouraging internet use should be a priority. Make sure internet usage policies are signed, obviously.

Reward New Ideas

Nothing encourages new ideas and innovation from your staff than a reward. The immediate benefit for bringing new ideas to you is the feeling of connectedness; of being integral. As well, that buy-in should be rewarded proportionately to the innovation they’ve brought. If their idea brings in $100,000 to the bottom line, there’s an onus to share the earnings with them. If it results in saving an hour of work per day, reward them with paid time off.

If you believe innovation is important to your company’s success, demonstrate it by engaging your whole team to find your next big thing.


 

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