Many organizations struggle to answer the following question: “How do we get our organization to become more innovative?” Innovation starts at the top of the organization with senior leadership. It is senior leadership’s responsibility to create an environment where innovation is encouraged and rewarded, whether the idea to be implemented was a success or not.
- As a leader, do you ask your contributors for new ideas? How frequently?
- If you do, what is your organization’s process for asking?
- Do you have a process in place that rewards your team members for new ideas and do you encourage the mindset of innovation?
- Does your organization have a process in place to communicate what ideas will be implemented and how it will impact the organization, and do you have a process to communicate what will not be implemented and why?
The following model has been successfully implemented to help senior leadership engage with their contributors to create an environment of innovation to then permeate through the fabric of the entire organization.
This innovation model begins in Quadrant I. Quadrant I focuses on the exercise of brainstorming. It is imperative that all team members come to the conversation with an open mind and senior leadership gives team members permission to be creative and think outside the box. No subject should off the table as it relates to brainstorming ideas and conversations related to what might happen if we changed and updated any aspect of the organization as well as our products/services. Senior leaderships’ encouragement and reinforcement is paramount to building an environment of trust. Reinforcing the concept that all ideas are good ideas helps the organization create this new attitude. Ongoing Quadrant I conversations create new habits which over time will allow the entire organization to just be more innovative.
As you cross the bridge of creativity into Quadrant II, now you will bring the team members together for meetings to select and prioritize the ideas to be implemented (frequency will be determined based your organization’s goals and objectives). As a team, they determine which top two or three ideas will be implemented. Keep in mind; you will get better outcomes from your team members if you have some type of reward/recognition system in place. Be creative. The rewards and recognition don’t always have to be financial. Truly innovative organizations have reward and recognition processes in place for new ideas as well as for successful implementations.
As you cross the bridge of implementation, you are now in Quadrant III. This is where the innovation ideas are implemented. It is where all of the magic happens or it is where the train, literally, skids off the tracks. In this quadrant, team members will experience the high of winning and they will try and fail, and mistakes will happen as not every implementation will be successful. It takes persistence and the appropriate attitudes to persevere and cross over the bridge of accomplishment. It also takes appropriate and consistent support from senior leadership to cheer the wins and thank the team for the efforts that didn’t work as the team thought they would.
Upon crossing over the bridge of accomplishment, you are now in Quadrant IV, known as measuring innovation results. Your organization will need to establish quantifiable measurements as to what results were achieved and what impact the results had on the organization’s bottom line. This quadrant is all about results and celebration! Celebration is critical to foster the new culture and the new attitudes. After crossing the bridge of celebration, we’re back into Quadrant I, brainstorming. If innovation is successful and sustainable, it is must remain continual.
Are you ahead or behind the innovation curve?