February 4, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
No matter how sustained it is, any business needs innovation. Sectors such as consumer electronics (entertainment and communication), for example, know that if it is not presented at least every six months, its permanence may be threatened.
And it applies to brands or companies of all types and sizes. Even the already consolidated SMEs require new ideas, or renew their products or services to stay in the minds of consumers, always eager for the new who, if they do not find it in your offer, will turn to the competition.
Antonio Ono, Vice President of Innovation and Analysis at Great Place to Work®, talks that there are different tools to know if innovation is present in your business.
Market studies, brainstorming (to evaluate the involvement of your people) or establishing a research and development department where those who devise an innovative product or service are concentrated, is common.
But for it to work, you want to have an organizational culture that encourages innovation. From all levels and in all jobs. It does not matter who proposes it, or from what area, but that the proposal is there for everyone.
Kodak, as you may recall, had a very, very expensive time ignoring the engineer who came to propose to review the digital camera issue. The company’s organizational culture was not yet designed for innovation.
But innovation does not happen by spontaneous generation either.
Based on the Great Place to Work ® For All model, Antonio Ono states that it is more likely to occur when:
- You work closely with people.
- If the leader is open to listening.
- If humility is shown to attend to what someone, whoever it is, needs to share.
Otherwise, your collaborators will learn to be silent or will take their proposals to another place where they do want to pay attention to them.
Jump out of the frame
The first key is to break paradigms. Yes, those that you learned at work, in university classrooms and in the experience itself. When things are taken for granted, the mind conditions itself and sets itself up or pretexts that prevent it from seeing new horizons.
The second key is if you initially think that an idea is too primal, naive or silly, you are making the first mistake to attract innovation.
By underestimating the proposals of your people, you will end up with the confidence they may have to share them. Remember that trust is something that is built over time but, if not taken care of, it can be lost in minutes.
The third key is to formalize the practice so that your team presents ideas in the meetings by area, every so often, and listen carefully to what someone wants to say to you.
Antonio Ono ensures that the best proposals are born when you connect people from all areas, from all levels and hierarchies, not just from market research or senior management.
Salesperson can communicate to technology what they have heard from their customers about the product; parcel can suggest to logistics how to design a better delivery route and so on.
Be the promoter
It is not enough that you open a forum for everyone to contribute ideas. Your leadership skills must reach you to inspire people to participate, humbly thank and find ways to recognize your collaborators.
Innovation stays alive. So when your idea is giving good results is the warning that you should look for a new one.
Antonio Ono, from the research of the Great Place to Work® institute, describes the five barriers that arise for innovation in companies.
- Labor terrorism . It occurs in authoritarian organizations, where the focus is on numbers; people live in constant anxiety, with no incentive to propose.
- Gaps in purpose . If employees do not feel part of the company, the mission and the vision, they will practically feel excluded from the innovation.
- To demand disproportionately . If people do not have the necessary tools and resources to do their tasks, they will hardly want to participate in any innovation.
- Neglecting your managers. Area leaders drive innovation, but if they are overwhelmed by management, feel neglected or poorly supported, they will hardly be able to pay attention to innovation.
- Stagnant minds. When people feel that they no longer have the capacity to grow professionally, they stagnate, thus blocking any attempt to contribute new ideas.
Open a trusted channel with all your necessary leadership skills: acknowledge, collaborate, appreciate and be humble. Open the door to innovation.