Within any organization, all innovation can be traced back to the leadership. Whether or not your teams are capable of consistently generating fresh ideas heavily depends on the ability of your leaders to rally the staff around a shared vision, promote an effective innovation pipeline, and empower the employees to continually generate fresh, out-of-the-box ideas, so the entire workforce can maximize its creativity.
Unfortunately, not all leaders are effective in ensuring a successful innovation pipeline. The reality is, promoting radical change is no easy feat and can be challenging for even the most seasoned executives. It requires creating a company culture of innovation – one in which every single employee, business decision, and initiative is designed for the pursuit of revolutionary, game-changing ideas.
So, how can leaders find success in establishing this rarified type of innovation culture? Here are some time-proven ideas to get you started, from a handful of impressively innovative companies:
1. Be insatiably curious. Innovation begins with curiosity and trying to learn more about your consumers. The more information you have about the market, the more data your team can leverage to innovate. For example, Samsung has design centers around the world so they can understand the local culture, people, lifestyles, and industry trends. This allows them to ensure that their products meet local needs in various markets. In the early days of Airbnb, company employees would travel and stay with their customers, gaining an invaluable inside view into their real-world experience.
2. Shape a company mindset of innovation. Innovation shouldn’t exclusively live in a single department within the company, like product development. Rather, it should be an established, inherent value throughout the organization. For example, creative innovation is one of adidas’core brand values. As such, every business area is designed to live and breathe creativity. New ideas and solutions are found in every office and department around the world, because it’s such an important component of the brand’s identity.
3. Make everyone responsible for innovation. When every single employee is responsible for innovation, it becomes ingrained in the company’s DNA and keeps radical ideas flowing. Richard Branson accomplished this by making innovation one of the characteristics human resources is instructed to look for when evaluating new employees. No matter what role they’re filling, they seek out individuals who demonstrate a passion for new ideas, are creative, and have a track record of thinking differently.
Want more tips on managing and promoting a successful innovation pipeline as a leader within your organization? Check out our Innovation Field Guide here.