Previously having a reputation as a luxurious add-on for companies, in more recent history, innovation has become one of the most invaluable tools in a business's belt. Key to longevity, those who did not embrace innovation as part of their organisational structure have long been forgotten. It’s little wonder that the world's leading business giants deeply embed innovation into their culture and are quick to move and innovate with the times.
Establishing innovation hubs within your business can also significantly affect employee engagement and motivation, ultimately making your business more profitable and productive. Allowing your team space and time to innovate is a good use of resources; 20% of employees work better when motivated, and highly engaged teams boost company profitability by 21%.
Owning a successful business does not guarantee long-term success. Embedding an innovation culture into an existing business can bring challenges, but the benefits and returns will make the time and energy spent worthwhile. We've put together some simple ways to help you start your business' innovation journey.
Think About your Innovation Strategy
If you're going to set time aside for innovation amongst your team, then you need to ensure that your employees can step away from their usual workload without impacting their stress levels or quality of work. Google's famous 20% time rule encouraged employees to focus on innovation one day a week, allowing them to step away from desks and try something new. Google ensured that although this was time for free thinking, it was still centred around the company's goals, with the practice seeing the creation of Google News, Ad Sense and Gmail.
Look Outside the Office
The hustle and bustle of the day-to-day in an office can make it hard for your team to separate themselves from their everyday work and can block innovative thinking. One survey found that 77% of employees report experiencing greater productivity when working off-site. Think about how you can create dedicated space for innovation; this could be in your office's meeting rooms, creative spaces or by establishing an internal innovation hub.
Look at your area's local coworking spaces and innovation hubs, and book your team a desk or meeting space there. Getting outside of the office and into nature can profoundly impact creativity. A change of scenery can help provide new outlooks, improve mental health and boost your team's productivity.
Lead By Example
For your team to prioritise innovation, you must do the same as a leader. Reward innovative thinking when you see it and showcase it to others in the company. Share your stories of failures as an example so your team feels free to explore without feeling pressure or worrying about risk. Finally, create a budget to empower innovative thinking throughout the business; it will show your employees that you’re serious and don’t expect them to do this in their own time.
Sideways 6’s ‘Ideas at Work’ survey found that 82% of employees have ideas to improve the business, but one-fifth of them are never heard as employees are afraid to put them forward. Empower your team at every level, and cultivate a culture of sharing, where all ideas brought forward are given equal respect and attention. You never know what might come out of it.
Don’t Restrict Your Innovation
Although there’s no denying that understanding customers and their needs is fundamental, true innovation will seek to solve problems that the customer doesn’t even know they have yet. So have your eyes on their future issues rather than solely on the solutions they’re demanding now. As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Remember that innovation isn’t always about inventing new products; it can streamline current processes or access new audiences. Don’t put limitations or expectations on your creativity; allow whatever comes up to be realistically explored and tested.
Know When to Let Go
It can be painful, but knowing when to let go of an idea is a hugely important part of the process. If ideas are not working, don’t waste more time and energy trying to crowbar them into your business. If you continue to push, you risk being a victim of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. “We are likely to continue an endeavour if we have already invested in it, whether it be a monetary investment or the effort we put into the decision.” Decision Labs describes, “That often means we go against evidence that shows it is no longer the best decision.” Trust the evidence, and if it’s not working, set it free.
Internal vs External Innovation Hubs
Rather than looking at internal and external innovation as separate entities, exploring these options for your business should be more like seeing how one can help bolster the other. Establishing partnerships with other innovators should broaden the scope of your internal innovation.
Look for local networking opportunities, search for startups that could improve your business, find inspiration in other companies, and do what’s best for your business. These practices should be used as tools to bolster your innovation, not to diminish it internally. Partnerships can be the perfect way to begin to embed innovation within your business, alleviating the pressure it can have on internal structures.
How Plus X Innovation Can Help
If you’re looking for a new space to harness the power of innovation, Plus X Innovation can be the solution. Whether you want to take time out for your team to get creative or more permanent space for a dedicated team, make our existing hubs your home for innovation. Book flexible desk space or find a new office in our hubs.
We regularly hold programmes dedicated to discovery and creation, which can help fast-track your existing ideas or support you in developing a new innovation strategy. Find out more and register your interest in our upcoming programmes.
Finally, if you’re interested in building your own innovation hub with us, get in touch.
Content + Social Media Manager at Plus X Innovation.