In 2020, many businesses and their employees were forced to create innovative solutions in response to the new challenges posed by the pandemic.
Many teams adjusted their business models, adapted to online work or pivoted in a variety of other ways, and as a result, many organizations found newer, more effective ways of doing things that they may not have even considered before.
But when we aren’t being innovative by necessity, it can be easy to settle into the status quo. So, how can organizations continue with this kind of anticipatory mindset that positions them for positive growth?
Here are just a few ways you can strive to make your business more innovative.
1. Look for Creative Combinations
Innovative initiatives are often thought of as a resource-intensive activity—whether it’s a new process internally, a new product being invented or a new service that’s being offered.
Yet, the truth is that innovation is more often the combination of two or more existing processes, products or services that are joined to create an impact greater than the sum of its parts.
An everyday example of this is the streaming services we’re now all accustomed to. A full ten years after the dot-com craze, Netflix saw an opportunity to deliver content that was already produced (movies and TV shows) to consumers via a medium that was generally available (high-speed internet).
Innovation isn’t necessarily investing heavily into research and development of a new process, product or service; it’s more so being creative with what we already have.
2. Monitor Your Company Culture
Building and maintaining an innovative culture within your business is key to finding opportunities for innovation. The more your team members are empowered to employ new ideas and initiatives on their own, the more innovative your business is positioned to become.
Culture is often a mindset that can’t be changed overnight. Building a culture could take years of the organization’s leaders setting an example of innovation and sending constant messaging about new ideas.
Ultimately, a constant and consistent message is paramount for the employees of your organization to continue to look for and seize opportunities to be innovative. Once a strong culture is in place, the foundation will be laid for your organization to build upon.
It’s important to create a space where your team members are encouraged to explore new solutions to old problems and think outside the box. Encourage conversations to turn from “That’s how we did it last year,” to “How can we build on our experience to make this year even better?”
3. Increase Collaboration and Communication
Communication is a fundamental of our society, and it’s key to innovation.
The ways that we communicate with each other have certainly changed in recent history. Rather than the occasional catch-up with your team in the hallways, virtual meetings are now the norm for many organizations.
But don’t let the comfort of virtual interactions deter your team from connecting outside of a meeting’s agenda.
In light of communication changes for your business, consider how your company can continue to increase collaboration among your employees by leveraging the tools available to you.
Many new ideas are a result of communication and collaboration among team members who may not have come to an idea on their own, but were able to brainstorm and connect with others, leading to an innovative solution. Teams that have diversity in thought and experiences consistently outperform homogeneous ones.
Whenever it’s appropriate, encourage your team to share information, discuss roadblocks and collaborate on potential solutions together instead of on their own. This could be within specific departments or offices, but you may also consider how you can encourage collaboration across departments, staff levels or locations.
Move away from operating on a need-to-know basis to a method that seeks out different perspectives on a topic.
4. Don’t Stop Learning
Material advancements are continually being made in the software and tools available to automate and improve the work process. When is the last time your team evaluated your daily tools and systems?
Similarly, each area of an organization is constantly evolving. New best practices, new regulations and new trends are always emerging. When is the last time you were intentional about brushing up on your own professional skills? What about others on your team?
It’s important to prioritize continued learning—both in the hard, technical skills that your team possesses and in the soft skills that are important for effectively navigating challenges and leading others.
Be sure to provide yourself and your team with opportunities that will help them establish the curiosity and habits of lifelong learners. The stimulation of new information will certainly lead to new and innovative approaches within your company.
Prioritizing Innovation and Opportunity
At the end of the day, intentionally seeking to make our organizations more innovative and more open to new ideas will only result in more adaptability, more insightfulness and more success. If we combine our collective ideas with some of today’s technological tools, we can come out even better than where we were before.
Learn more about the services Warren Averett provides and how our team of advisors helps businesses thrive.
This article was originally published on April 28, 2020 and most recently updated on July 14, 2022.