How to foster innovation in the workplace

Professor Vangelis Souitaris, Professor of Entrepreneurship, shares strategies on how to encourage innovation and creativity in an organisation.

There’s no denying that innovation has become important to businesses and organisations, whether large or small. Innovation refers to something new, it can be a product, a service or a new process that has been implemented to help in streamlining a task or an activity, thus leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

While it’s true that the term innovation has become trendy, the unfortunate reality is that there are many companies that are stuck in their ways because they are afraid of change. So how does one effectively encourage and manage innovation and subsequent changes within an organisation?

Real innovation requires significant investment of time, resources and a willingness from management to advocate and embrace changes.

  1. Hire creatives

    Innovation in an organisation is born out of creativity. The importance of hiring people who are creative, can inspire change and lead the process of innovation cannot be understated. How do you know if someone is a creative when you are hiring? It has to be someone who is different from you. To innovate, you have to hire misfits who sometimes make you feel comfortable with their controversial ideas.

  2. Nurture an open environment

    Employees are able to think outside the box and be creative when they are given autonomy. Creative people do not like to be micromanaged, so it is important to leave them relatively unsupervised and give them the freedom to create.

  3. Allow failure

    Failure is part of innovation. As important as it is to allow the freedom to innovate, nurturing a culture where failed experiments are tolerated is essential. If employees were to face the consequences of coming up with project ideas that have failed, they would be discouraged from taking initiative.

  4. Rewardsuccess                                                                                                                                                                   Be prepared to offer rewards if projects succeed, in order to incentivise people to try. These can be in the form of financial benefits, power and autonomy or flexibility in terms of work schedules.