7 Ways to Foster Innovation in the Workplace

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Turning a creative idea into an innovative product can catapult your business to the top of the Fortune 500 list in a matter of months. Apple’s innovative iPod revolutionized the way we listen to music. An innovative Harvard student created Facebook and forever changed the way we communicate.

Your next product could revolutionize your industry … but first you need to open the creative floodgates by fostering an innovative workplace. New ideas fuel your business. That’s why creating an innovative and creative workplace is vital to your organization’s future. Here’s how:

1. Don’t fear risks … or failure. Introducing new and innovative ideas or products comes with risk. The very nature of innovation requires you to take risks. Doing the same thing over and over again or mimicking a competitor’s proven product is certainly safe, but it doesn’t move your business forward. If innovation was safe, everyone would do it.

2. Provide creative space. The best creative ideas come from collaboration. By providing a creative meeting space for your employees, you’ll encourage more collaboration and innovation. Don’t restrict the use of your creative space — inspiration can strike when you least expect it!

3. Look to the future. The most innovative companies are always looking toward the future. They’re constantly thinking of innovative ways to improve their products or services. And they’re proactively solving any potential problems. Always keep your eyes on the horizon.

4. Make your own products obsolete. If you don’t find a way to improve your existing products, your competition will. So beat them to the punch. Sony failed to do this in 2001. They had developed an MP3 player, but they delayed its release so Walkman sales wouldn’t suffer. I think we all know who beat them to the punch.

5. Encourage all employees to share ideas. Your frontline employees are one of your best sources of innovative ideas. They are in constant contact with the customer, so they know what the customers want or what problems they might have with your product. Use this knowledge to create innovative ways of improving your business.

6. Involve your customers. They’re the ones consuming your product, so ask them how you can make their experience better. Utilize focus groups or surveys. The information you glean from your customers is invaluable to the creative process. Knowing your customers helps you create a more innovative product.

7. Hold monthly brainstorming sessions. That great idea is floating around the minds of your employees … you just have to force it out. By holding monthly or bimonthly brainstorming sessions, you’ll make sure that no idea goes unnoticed.

You can’t force innovation. But you can create an environment that fosters innovation by employing these seven simple ideas.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.