Nowadays, we are facing more and more complexity, rapid change, and economic instability. The Corona crisis radically changed the way we live and work. At the same time, innovative companies and new start-ups arise faster than ever with unique and sometimes astounding ideas. They are strong market competitors with new and innovative products and services.
More than ever, companies face the need to change, adapt and be innovative. New ideas, products and services are essential to keep up with the current changes and challenges. Therefore, it is crucial to foster innovation and creativity.
Here are three steps with which a company can foster innovation and creativity:
1. Breaking down Silos
When employees within the same company purposely do not share knowledge and information between departments and teams, a Silo mentality exists. Such a mindset causes, among other things, misalignment, poor decision making, slow processes, miscommunication and lack of innovation and creativity. It not only exists in established hierarchical companies but also in more modern ones. There is often the belief that companies with cross-functional teams cannot have such a Silo mentality. However, such teams often become so independent that they become silos on their own.
By breaking down silos, employees start to connect across departments and teams. Relationships can develop, which leads to increased solidarity, acceptance and understanding. In the long run, conflicts and miscommunication will decrease, and barriers will slowly break down. Finally, knowledge and information transfer start to increase, and employees receive new perspectives and insights, get challenged and learn about new topics. That fosters new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Here are two simple approaches to start breaking down silos:
A Mystery lunch is a lunch appointment with two randomly selected employees. Employees within the whole company can voluntarily register for such lunch dates. Random matches will be drawn and announced. To encourage higher participation, Mystery lunch should happen regularly and can be made even more appealing by providing lunch vouchers.
If needed, a Mystery lunch can also be facilitated remotely. Start now to create a better togetherness.
Buddy systems are used in sports to support, train, and coach each other. Such approaches are also beneficial at work. Buddy systems can have very different purposes and be used in various ways. Therefore, it is essential to identify the company's needs and implement a Buddy system that fits them to the fullest. The approach of Mutual Buddies is one example of how to foster innovation and creativity.
The primary purpose of Mutual Buddies is joint learning, growing and knowledge sharing. Mutual Buddies meet regularly to talk about their ambitions, encourage each other and provide feedback. Such regular exchanges offer new insights and perspectives, which create new ideas and solutions.
Read here more about that topic.
2. Add fresh impetus with an Innovation Tournament
The Innovation Tournament is an internal challenge that encourages intrapreneurship and solution-oriented thinking. The employees will be invited to submit innovative ideas, which they will vote on later. The winner will be a team or person with the most votes. The company will provide resources to the winner – money, time, space, etc. to further develop their idea.
One essential thing to note here: If you have never tried such a tournament before, give it some time to unfold its potential fully. It takes some time for people to get accustomed to it. Try different strategies to encourage them and reduce their doubts.
Read here more about that topic.
3. Foster self-organization with a Pre-Approval process
Self-organization means that employees organize themselves and can decide things for themselves within defined boundaries. Companies that live self-organization experience advantages such as increased stakeholder and customer satisfaction due to faster and more intuitive responses, employees are more engaged, motivated and committed, and internal processes are less complex.
If you want to move toward self-organization, an excellent first step is introducing a pre-approval process. Such a process allows employees to make decisions without getting approval first. However, the management gets informed afterwards. Basically, the approval is already given for specific situations. Management and employees decide together in which situations a pre-approval process can be helpful.
Read here more about the Pre-Approval Process.
Try some of the ideas above to foster innovation within your company. Please do not force such changes upon your employees but decide together which steps and experiments should be tried. That will increase the buy-in of everyone. Remember that big changes start with small steps, so take the first one now!