3 ways to spur innovation in an organization

The best organizations are the ones that can not only grow and expand, but find new ways to solve problems. These companies don’t just look at how to be better at what they do – they examine how they can change what they do to make their business more successful. So how can an organization accomplish this task? It goes beyond simply having a brainstorming session every week. Rather than trying to be innovative, a business can alter its practices to encourage creativity to flow freely. Here are three techniques for doing so:

“A business can alter its practices to encourage creativity to flow freely.”

1. Take a hard look at HR policies
One way to improve a business’s innovation is for it to hire innovative people. But that often means considering candidates who don’t necessarily align exactly with the established norms of the office, according to The New York Times. Put another way, a company that hires for “fit” may be unwittingly hiring a bunch of clones of the people who already work there. That is a surefire way to lock in a narrow mindset.

It doesn’t mean hiring people who aren’t qualified or who don’t share the company’s vision, but rather being willing to bring on folks with different backgrounds and personalities. Cultural fit should describe the business goals and office expectations, not employee hobbies and lifestyle.

2. Expand the right way
A thriving company should consider opening offices in other areas to accommodate more employees and drive commerce. But an innovative organization will examine the market, determine where growth is most prevalent and target that region for an office. It will look at the workforce in an area and analyze how it can capitalize on the skills available. International corporate relocation can reinvigorate a company – sometimes a change of scenery is what it takes to open eyes and drive business.

While global mobility can drive innovation, a company shouldn’t consider this route until it’s ready and able to make the transition. However, those that are prepared can pick their spots and let their relocation drive their innovation. These businesses will also have access to an entirely different way of life and method of thinking by tapping into resources abroad.

For businesses, innovation is more important than simple growth.For businesses, innovation is more important than simple growth.

3. Recognize and reward every good idea
In a perfect world, every concept, theory and idea is executed successfully and eventually adds value to a company. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances may arise to prove the initiative unfeasible. But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily a failure in every sense. In fact, the very act of an employee coming up with an idea and determining actionable steps is a thing worth rewarding. The best organizations don’t chastise individuals for coming up with unsuccessful ideas – they reward their employees for having the ingenuity and industry to take that step in the first place.

“While there is inherent risk to change, it is critical that we pay attention to new ideas and reward great thinking because new ideas challenge a stagnating status quo,” Jay Hooley, CEO of State Street Bank, told The Wall Street Journal. “As leaders, we must make it our mission to create a culture that rewards the nimble, the flexible and encourages an element of learning from mistakes.”

Innovation takes courage, but not blind risk. Not every company that takes a risk is successful, but every successful company must take risks. By following these three guidelines and examining options critically but with an open mind, organizations could boost innovation at every level, from the new employee to the C-level.