The ability to innovate can make all the difference between a business start-up’s success and failure. If you want to stay relevant and stand out from the competition, you need to think outside the box. That involves finding new ways to do activities. Plus, you should keep improving on your offer of products or services.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to be the only one responsible for generating innovative ideas. By encouraging employee innovation, your entire team can benefit from everyone’s creative ideas. Anyone can have a good idea, and your employees could spark your company’s next significant innovation. But first, you have to encourage them to be more creative and to innovate.
Here are some practical ways to encourage innovation in your business start-up:
1. Ask for your employees’ input in different situations
Perhaps you have a few employees who are always ready to contribute with their original ideas. However, if you want to encourage all your employees to innovate, don’t hesitate to ask for their input. You could ask them for their feedback on some past projects or changes you implemented a few months ago.
You could also ask them if they have ideas for upcoming events, suggestions for new blog content, or insight on how you could increase sales. Perhaps some members of your team have plenty of good ideas, but they simply don’t think you are interested in hearing them. Let them know you do want to hear their suggestions.
2. Run some design thinking workshops
Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving. There are design thinking workshops, which can help your team develop solutions to different types of problems. During a workshop, your employees will come together to analyze problems, brainstorm ideas, and build prototypes. Afterwards, everyone learns from the feedback until they can find the best solution possible.
3. Focus on what your customers need
Whether you are in the business of developing and selling products or services, it makes sense to put your customers at the center of everything you do. If you want to provide them with better products or services, you need to know what customers want. Understand what they need, what they are unhappy about, and what would make their lives easier.
Remind your employees that a big part of their job is working on things that can help people. They should try to put themselves in the customer’s shoes when searching for ideas.
4. Make sure your employees have enough time for creative thinking
The best creative ideas can come from playing a game, having a conversation with a friend or a colleague, or simply daydreaming. However, your employees won’t have a chance to do any of this if they are constantly working.
To encourage employee innovation, make sure they have some time to dedicate to creative thinking. Let them take a break when they need it. Designate some time where they will have nothing to do but try to develop interesting ideas.
5. Allow them to work on projects they are passionate about
If some of your employees have an idea they would like to work on, allow them to work on it. Even if an idea doesn’t seem like it would help your business, it could still be a good idea to let your team develop it.
Working on a project they are passionate about sparks creativity, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the tasks they usually do. The project could encourage employees to think more creatively and be more confident in their abilities to innovate.
6. Try out different ways to brainstorm
Brainstorming sessions can be great, but they are not always the most productive way to generate ideas. So, why not try out different ways to brainstorm? You could have every participant ask a question that starts with “what if…” and see if it encourages creative answers. You could also create a story, encourage everyone to add a sentence or two, and see where it goes.
7. Implement good ideas as soon as possible
There are many ways to encourage your employees to innovate. But what should you do when they present you with great ideas? You should act, and implement those ideas as soon as possible. Develop them, and test them. It will make your employees feel happy and proud. Plus, it will encourage them to come up with more innovative ideas.
If an idea is interesting but not good enough to implement it, you should still provide feedback. The employee knows their contribution is valued, and that you want them to keep thinking creatively.