Innovation. What does that mean to you? Do you actively seek (and solicit) ideas for enhancing products, services, and processes? Do you encourage collaboration and seek input from those that are impacted by the services/products you provide? What about those involved in the process?

“Innovation is anything but business as usual.”

Innovation is considered the driver for growth and change. In order for this to happen, employees (of all levels) must be encouraged to generate ideas. One common obstacle is that employees don’t feel listened to and therefore do not speak up.

A McKinsey study found that more than 70% of senior executives say that innovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth for their companies in the next three to five years. It also found that 84% of senior executives said that people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation.

Why? A culture built on trust encourages interactions. The “fear factor” for making suggestions that may possibly not net favorable results will be lessened, and it will not inhibit future ideas from being provided.

Add innovation as an agenda item at your staff meetings. Restate your strategic objectives and build in time for brainstorming. Gather ideas, think about trends, list what your competitors do that you don’t, identify processes that seem obsolete, and also consider how technology helps/hurts.

Ask your team to think in terms of what could change. Ask them how your products, services, and/or processes could be improved upon, and most importantly, listen and acknowledge when contributions are made.

It’s helpful to have a “champion” within your organization. Someone that can help answer questions when ideas are suggested. They must have a thorough understanding of the organization’s strategic business objectives, know who the “right” people are to build on ideas, and also assess the associated benefits and costs.

Encourage, innovate, and wishing you “anything but business as usual”!

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