3 ways to nurture innovation across your business

  • Barriers to innovation include reliance on past successes and a failure to experiment.

  • To foster innovation, collaborate with universities and reward innovative thinking.

Innovation doesn’t just happen — even when it seems to be part of the corporate culture. Some elements of invention are serendipitous, but there are ways for organizations to increase the supply and demand of innovation.

The first step is to conduct a current situation analysis. This involves identifying the barriers to creating and adopting innovative solutions.

Common barriers to innovation include group-thinking and short-term thinking. It’s easy to be tripped up by short-sighted thinking. Instead, diverse perspectives, combined with experimentation, can move ideas forward quickly. Because rigid expectations can slow innovation, organizations should avoid getting stuck in thinking: “We’ve always done it this way, not that way.” Don’t let previous experiences stop or slow the flow of new ideas.

Perhaps the most significant barrier to innovation is communication. Leaders often fail to take into account the importance of communicating their vision. Be sure to define what the vision is, how it will be measured, and why. Communicating aspirations effectively can plant the seeds of innovation.

Once you’ve broken past innovation barriers, you can foster innovation across your business in three ways:

1. Cultivating diverse relationships:

Are you working with local universities? They are always looking for projects students can work on. Do you actively work to capture the insight of your older — as well as younger — workers? Or those from different backgrounds or experiences?

2. Start small but think big:

Have some innovative efforts in the works. If you don’t have a few running, you’re not trying. Do you pay your employees to work on innovations outside of work hours? If not, should you? If so, do you ensure that all the money isn’t spent by the time the “real innovation” comes through the door?

3. Peer coaching:

What is being done to share ideas? Collaboration tools are common, and there are numerous ways to either formally (synchronously) or informally (asynchronously) share perspectives across organizations. For innovation to develop, often it takes the following mindset: “If you can do A, and I can do B, maybe we should do C together.”

Every business should be flush with innovative ideas based on the technological advances taking place, especially in IoT, mobility, and cloud. Businesses can leverage new network and collaboration capabilities to become more nimble, innovative, and competitive.

When it comes to innovation, it’s best to prioritize the possibilities to maximize benefit. Have a plan in place to improve and understand the variety of techniques available.

And above all, don’t leave innovation to chance!


Charlie Bess is an independent IT Consultant. He is the author of this blog and all opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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