3 Exercises to Encourage You & Your Team to Innovate

by John Meyer February 3, 2016
February 3, 2016

One of the most valuable skills for a successful entrepreneur is the ability to innovate. Regardless of business size or market niche, innovation is what shapes the future.

Think of what our present world would be lacking if not for basic technology innovations over the past decade. With this in mind, it’s imperative for a start-up to have procedures in place that encourage employees to be innovative no matter what their given roles.

As an introduction into promoting and nurturing the innovative mindset among your team, what follows are three exercises that should become a component of every business plan — day-to-day, and beyond.

Avoid complacency, embrace challenge.

Nothing will kill a business quicker than resting on your laurels. The moment that momentum is lost, the competition will speed by. Your team should push itself (as you push them) to face the next plateau on a regular basis.

Enjoying successes is always welcome, but it should never be an excuse to stop and get comfortable. Much of this mindset will be predicated on the type of business one is involved in, but it holds a universal truth.

Consider IBM over two decades ago when the company was in a death spiral, due to its sense of corporate complacency while young up-and-comers closed the gap and ultimately left Big Blue in the proverbial dust. How did this happen? IBM’s brain trust got complacent, and fell asleep at the wheel. That is precisely the type of company-wide mindset you want to keep at bay. Foster a culture of innovation and you stand a greater chance of avoiding stagnation.

Think beyond the obvious (outside the box).

This concept may sound antiquated and a bit clichéd, but it still merits consideration. Think back to the dot-com revolution of the late 1990s/early2000s. Countless companies rocketed skyward only to come crashing down when the bubble burst. Many of those companies were pretenders, building themselves on smoke and mirrors instead of true fundamentals and genuine innovation. The survivors became industry leaders, and never ceased to improve, expand, and innovate. Remember when Amazon only sold books? Jeff Bezos expanded the company by directing it beyond being a mere book seller and into an online marketing colossus by adhering to one primary concept … innovation.

Ensure that everyone has a vested interest in business success.

Look at your employees, then ask yourself if everyone considers themselves integral members of the team who contribute to the bottom line. If there is any sense of personnel imbalance or inequality, you might be lacking a unified front that buys into the business individually and collectively.

Though compensation levels will obviously vary throughout a given organization, every employee must feel valued, but more importantly, experience a tangible reward for their efforts. Recognition awards and monetary bonuses will often suffice, but beyond those two incentives, it is vital for a business owner/operator to ensure that all employees maintain understandings of their respective values to a company, and how those values play into the organization’s success.

The easiest way to make employees feel valued? Ask them for ideas and suggestions on how to make the business better … then listen.

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