The 9 indicators of innovation
Innovation is a baseline expectation for all organisations. It’s something they all strive for, yet many struggle to achieve. What does it really mean to be innovative? And how can business leaders promote and nurture a culture of innovation across their workforce?
We believe that the most successful, innovative companies have nine key traits in common. Create a culture with each of these elements, and your organisation is likely to be innovation-ready.
Trust is a safety net. It gives your employees permission to try something new, even if they don’t know what the outcome will be. It enables innovation by providing an atmosphere that accepts that mistakes will happen from time to time, but the important thing is that you learn from them. Leaders must trust their people find creative solutions and push the boundaries, within the context of a broader transformation plan.
Curiosity is the lifeblood of creativity. To build a Culture of Innovation, leader must nurture critical thinking, and allow their people to challenge authority and speak up about their ideas, even if it means creating discord. As a leader, your behaviours will have a strong influence on the behaviour and performance of your teams. With this in mind, it’s important that you practice what you preach and demonstrate how you unlock your curiosity. Your people will follow suit.
We’re all natural experimenters. We practice, we succeed, we fail – and then we experiment again. Organisations thrive when their people have time to try new approaches, and learn from their successes and their failures. Gathering the thoughts of consumers, employees, investors, competitors, and even machines and systems can help to inform new approaches.
In any project or workflow, it’s inevitable that roadblocks will emerge that hamper progress. But successful companies are persistent, and they adapt their approach when issues arise. Things don’t always go completely to plan, but the best organisations embrace change and ambiguity, and expect hurdles on their route. They understand that opportunity can often be found through flexibility and agility.
Blend talent with direction, determination and passion, and you’ll have grit. During inevitable difficulties, people with grit have strength of character, resolve and courage. As with curiosity, it’s important that you lead by example. As a leader, if you make a mistake, accept responsibility and learn the lessons so as not to repeat them. Successful companies acknowledge failure, seek ways to mitigate fallout, and avoid pointing fingers or blaming others.
In any working group, each individual plays two roles: a functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are. Too many companies focus on each individual’s functional role, and hope that good team performance will somehow follow. But that’s not always the case. Observing the balance of roles in a team offers insight into its dynamics. It also indicates the likelihood of success or failure for an assigned task.
Old assumptions can be dangerous. For innovation to happen, you need diverse perspectives. To make orgainsations more diverse, the focus shouldn’t just be on addressing bias. Organisations should also turn their attention to conscious inclusion – ensuring all people feel that their human potential is valued. Change can come from individuals. Ask yourself: What will you commit to make it happen? Who will you sponsor and who will you invite in?
Successful innovation is driven be a clear vision and purpose. This needs to be articulated openly and regularly to set the parameters for new ideas. It’s important that your people understand the company’s roadmap and hopes for the future, so they can put forward ideas that will support the journey. Complement this with open networks and feedback loops marked by candour and constructiveness.
What you know today is less relevant than what you may learn in the future; and knowing the answer to questions is less critical than having the ability to ask the right questions in the first place. Hire people with high learnability- the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill set. Too often we focus on training and development, while undermining the importance of proper selection. But the reality is that it’s easier to prevent and predict, than to fix and change. Good selection makes training and development more effective because it is easier to augment potential
Creating a culture of innovation isn’t something that will happen overnight. It takes time, but when it’s done well, the return can be significant and swift. If you’d like to learn more about the ways in which ManpowerGroup can help you to create a culture of innovation, please visit: manpowergroup.co.uk/recruitment-workforce-solutions