As a business owner, you know your company can’t remain stagnant and stuck in its ways if it hopes to grow.
That growth requires innovation and creativity, both of which are best sourced from everyone on your team.
Advice to Encourage Innovation
To help you put your staff in an innovative mindset, we asked 14 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
“What’s one unique way to encourage innovation in your company that others may not have considered?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Explore a New Technology Platform
“Select a new technology platform or service and challenge your team(s) to think about what they could do with it for the company or a client. Start with exploring the new tech and answering questions that might come up about it. Then, let the team(s) go away and come up with concepts, then return and share. For those with the capabilities, encourage a prototype or proof of concept.” ~ Andrew Howlett, Struck
2. Start a Company Book Club
“Do a book club together. I have my employees listen to audiobooks that tickle my fancy (or theirs), and then we discuss each week how we could apply those ideas to our business. Why recreate the wheel when you can just re-read it?” ~ Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking & Entourage Effect Capital
3. Be Transparent About Your Challenges
“If your team doesn’t know what the biggest challenges are for the company, then the ideas they have for innovating may be focused on the wrong things. By being transparent about where you as a company need to improve, you can help people focus their thinking on solving the right problems.” ~ Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
4. Admit (and Learn From) Your Past Failures
“Tell your new hires how you failed in the past. All newbies expect to hear about the company’s greatest successes when they first start out, but if you get into some of the more significant fails, that just might give them the ideas, motivations or thought processes to truly introduce innovation in your company.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
5. Encourage People to Use Their PTO
“Encouraging staff to take their allotment of vacation may not be an obvious way to encourage innovation, but it is. When employees are tired and burned out, they’re not as productive or creative. Reminding them to take their vacations will help them destress and decompress, so they come back to work with a clear mind that’s able to think more creatively.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
6. Reward Experimental Behavior
“If you want innovative employees, then it helps to encourage and reward experimental behavior. If they try something new that ends up benefiting the company, then you can make an announcement and offer them a gift card or some other form of compensation. Showing your appreciation will motivate your whole team to do the same so you get the results you’re looking for.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms
7. Hold Regular ‘Innovation’ Meetings
“Regular meetings where team members can snowball ideas and talk about different concepts are great for sparking innovation. These free-thinking sessions encourage your staff to think outside the box, which can lead to jaw-dropping breakthroughs.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC
8. Have Employees Listen to Customers
“The best source of innovation comes from our customers and their experiences working with our products. I encourage my team to listen to what people are saying and to understand their pain points. When we identify a problem, that’s when an ‘aha!’ moment appears and we’re able to come up with something new and seemingly innovative, when it’s really just that we listened to customers and did something with it.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
9. Allow for Questions
“The best way to encourage innovation at work is to promote discussions and allow people to ask questions. It’s essential to create a ‘no stupid questions’ rule so that people don’t hold back from asking questions. When you encourage open discussions, you’ll create an environment that supports innovation.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress
10. Give People a Say in Company Decisions
“Allow your employees to have a say in decisions and give them the option of sharing their opinions and ideas. The members of your staff are the backbone of your company, so listening to what they have to say is important and will pave the way toward innovation.” ~ Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.
11. Establish Peer Recognition
“Reward innovation. Establish a formal innovation award where peers nominate one another. This creates a culture where innovation isn’t merely encouraged, it is rewarded. By having peers choose one another, the playing field opens up to anyone in any corner of the organization, frequently inviting more people to step forward with ideas.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
12. Let Your Team Work During Their Peak Productivity Times
“We encourage innovation in our company by allowing our team to work when they are at peak productivity. We don’t have a strict start and end time for the day since our team is global. As a result, we see consistently positive results in terms of productivity and innovation. When people can work when their brain is ‘on,’ they can come up with some really good ideas.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
13. Take Advantage of ‘Small Talk’ Moments
“Our Friday 3:05 p.m. Cafecitos are our time to discuss new trends, news and tech updates companywide. What starts as Cuban coffee talk often results in action plans for adopting new strategies. Do not discount the moments of small talk, whether at the watercooler or while having a coffee break — all moments when you are together and active listening are fertile grounds for innovation.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic
14. Create the Right Restrictions
“Create restrictions. Often we fail to innovate because we have too many options. This is why they say that necessity is the mother of invention — when you have just the right amount of restriction, you are able to get more creative with your solutions and create genius results.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.