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The importance of inculcating a culture of innovation at workplace

It is interesting to note that “innovation” comes under the list of three main management needs for close to two-thirds of the firms today. Regardless of the size of the organisation, innovative pioneers are remarkably alike everywhere.

They align innovation with business objectives, create structures that empower advancement, and establish a culture that encourages innovation to survive as well as to prosper.

For firms, innovation corresponds with competitiveness and value creation. Thus, in an era where digital is on an unparalleled rise owing to the pandemic, it is critical for innovation to become a cultural imperative.

Furthermore, innovation needs to have a systematic approach that is fundamental to all business activities, be it employing different teams or planning acknowledgement programmes.

It simply cannot be an adhoc activity. Through an orderly move, innovative companies can provide the right environment that is conducive for an idea to grow and thrive.

“The calculus of innovation is really quite simple: knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, and productivity drives economic growth.” These were the words of scientist William R Brody that hold prominence now more than ever.

Truly, for the sake of survival as well as growth, organisations and people must keep on evolving. Today, innovation must be considered as the most significant factor to follow as it allows an organisation to enjoy a competitive edge, which can result in greater opportunities.

Let’s delve deeper to understand how an organisation can stimulate and nurture a culture of innovation:

Innovation starts with an idea

Anyone and everyone can be an innovator. It need not require one to be an executive of level C. Innovation just starts with a mere idea, which is of utmost importance. Hence, a flexible idea generation platform within a company or with clients are suitable ways to generate ideas.

The extent of idea generation can fluctuate from enhancing internal processes, tackling a business, to a societal challenge or simply a clever method for getting things done.

These encourage individuals to think differently, collaborate easily and move past their comfort zones. Remember that no idea can ever be a bad idea. It can just require direction and shaping.

Innovative mindset

Authors Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus coined the term VUCA in 1987, which stands for ‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.’ It still echoes today in current times, and rightfully so. We, indeed, live in a VUCA world that demands to avoid traditional, outdated approaches to management and leadership and day-to-day working. It challenges business leaders to find a new solution to problems every other day.

Here, innovation plays a very critical role even though the process is a bit complicated. Eight times out of ten one may likely fail. But innovation will power one to accept all difficulties, anticipate misfortunes, learn, pivot, and come up with a shockingly better and more grounded idea.

Fail fast and move on! Adopting a resilient approach is very important for successful innovation because as they say, “if you are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Employee-first culture

Undoubtedly, the pandemic is an impediment, which has given dramatic rise to mental health issues, even at workplaces. This is an indication of poor artistic brilliance. It would be appropriate to say that it’s a key factor in killing creativity, rather than cultivating it.

And day by day, the shred of evidence is growing that high creativity and idea generation are directly linked to low work stress.

Thus, firms that prioritise the well-being of the employees and believe in an employee-first approach can easily drive innovation at their workplace – both literally and figuratively – by providing workers room to breathe; as a leader, you are opening up headspace for those imaginative and innovative thoughts to birth.

The bottom line

Someone has put it rightly, true change doesn’t happen overnight; it has to happen gradually. You first have to have a change of heart, then a change of mind, and then your actions will follow. It is important to build credibility in every part of the company throughout the process of cultural change.

Leaders, right from the C-level positions to departmental heads, must act as role models who noticeably ‘walk the talk’ and follow what they have conveyed. Incremental innovation, which refers to a series of small improvements in an organisation, may be less effective in the long haul.

Nonetheless, addressing small changes that employees will witness in their everyday tasks are basic strides for establishing credibility. Only when change is felt and professionals have started to think and act differently with respect to innovation can they be ready for implementing bigger changes.

With the proper demonstration of the firm’s commitment to change and exhibit how innovation is advantageous for both the business as well as the employees, mindsets will shift slowly but surely.

Consequently, not only will employees want to be part of the change and embrace innovation, but business as a whole will become a magnet for talent. Certainly, innovation should be a cultural imperative at any workplace as it helps organisations to stay relevant and drive business growth.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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