After my post yesterday on Independence - A way to empower a colleague over a chat asked me..."Do you think Independence only will lead to new Ideas, Innovations?" The answer I am very sure about.. "NO". I believe Independence is a vehicle that you give to your Team to reach the milestones faster.. how they drive it, how they handle speed and consequences is built using a culture... We all call it Company Culture that's one thing that drives Innovation... Some say that cultures with freedom and Independence drive Innovation, I disagree.. even red carpet company cultures can drive strong Innovation...
A few years ago I worked with a company where I was not supposed to access any social networking web site, however I was building one... The Team of 15 developers was building something that they could not compare with the competition.... quite a few developers raised this issue, they were blocked to use chat tools, social sites, forums and god knows what not.. I only realised how Innovative people can be in such red carpet zones, when I found that they have figured a way to proxy requests using a custom made java app... only in a few years of time that type of product became one loved by red carpet companies, people called web routing.
So how does one build this culture so people can innovate? Well its an investment, and if you need to reap the benefits of Innovation and Innovative teams you need to sow the seeds of investment first....
1. Encourage your Teams to interact more, if they aint doing it, Ask them to do it.
2. Remove the fear, The fear of failure or complexity is a killer. Kills anything on its way.. let them wander freely...
3. Celebrate failure, Learn how to fail. If you do so, you would be able to find the reasons of failures and improve..
4. Encourage people to get off their desks, meet informally. If you think that is not working out well... organize small events in office where they can be fun and casual.
5. Think long term. Your Innovation is not finished in next quarter. Tell them that you are looking for beyond future
6. Involve as many people as you can, when you share Ideas and innovations... more the people, more the benefits.
7. Learn and encourage the art of brainstorming. Train them to jump into conversations, debates
8. Find ways to learn and share the learning's.
9. Find problems, Share problems, find ways to work out... make them work.
10. Reward both individual and groups. Innovate Innovation heroes
11. Remove blockages that stop people from communicating , innovating.
12. Train them to think above growth, money and success
13. Learn to say " I failed". learn to say "No" . Learn to say "I will"
14. Ensure that they understand that only thing secretive at workplace is "Agatha Christie's novel kept in the library"
A few things that you can start with to foster a Innovation culture or as well build a company culture to Innovate...
Remember to make Best Products , best processes , Best People... you need to invest first!!!!!