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Is innovation ‘all talk and no action’?

It is all very well talking about innovation and how much you support your team and whole company in being innovative and trialing new and different ideas and concepts.  However, are you backing up your belief and support through your actions? Your team should be able to trust what you are communicating, which will derive from a large portion of what you reward, a smaller portion from what you do and the smallest portion from what you say!  So if you are simply talking about innovation and not following this up with actions or rewards and still showing resistance to change, this could be key to why innovation is not developing in your company…

80% of businesses say innovation is vital to the survival of their organisation, however only 4% report doing anything about it.  Innovation has become a bit of an overused, ‘thrown around’ word which is a ‘must-have’ in business.  It can be easily voiced but it is also as easy to not follow this with support or reward.  Resistance to change stems from the thinking, ‘if what we have always done has worked, why change it?’ and the worry of the risk of change.  Fast Company rightly comment on this topic that if management is rewarded on the performance of their business unit or team, they may prefer to keep things relatively the same with only a few minor tweaks, rather than trial something which may not pay off.  If this is the general trend, then your team will not pursue with being innovative and offering new alternative ways for the company to progress.  Additionally, this will have a knock-on effect on trust levels with your team no longer having confidence in what you say.

A key way to address this potential issue is by planning ahead; make innovation part of your team business strategy and make it part of your plan to overhaul a specific process or implement a certain number of new concepts.  You should also plan ahead how you will reward innovation to encourage and prove your belief in this.  Challenge yourself to think beyond pay rises, bonuses and promotions and think of awards and public commendations too, Fast Company suggest.  Aligning your plans for innovation to what you are continually rewarding and promoting is important.  It is no good rewarding employees who are completing projects in a fast time but in the same way as they have previously done and ignoring those who have trialed or implemented a new innovative process which has affected their speed.

It is important to note though, that monetary awards may not always achieve the long-term intended effect.  Employees may just think up as many new small ideas as they can to achieve the reward, but with no motivation to continue beyond this.  This will result in it being rather narrow-minded with an absence of the maintenance of quality ideas.  Topic-orientated innovation workshops will help bring team collaboration and feeling of community around the strategy.  Additionally, communication around innovation and how it will be implemented into the strategy is vital.  Poor communication will not yield results!  The provision of information, guidance and meetings around innovation will help keep this at the forefront of your team’s minds and show that innovation will be a persistent part of your culture.

Innovation can play a very useful role in problem-solving and our previous blog post ‘Add some creativity and innovation to your problem-solving! discusses exactly this!

Is innovation a key part of your strategy?  What works best in instilling this within your team?

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