Though it’s become a buzzword in the last couple of years, the reality is that innovation still is a critical part of doing business—especially today. Without it, it would be impossible to adapt to new contexts, meet new customer demands, and overcome ever-changing challenges.
Innovation is the pillar on which all resilient businesses are built because the ability to anticipate what’s coming, adapt to new situations, and come up with never-before-seen solutions is what this post-pandemic world is asking of all companies. So, it’s only natural that virtually all businesses aim to be as innovative as possible.
How can they do that? You could argue that it’s enough to hire innovative people and let them work their magic. But it certainly takes more than that. Without fostering an innovative corporate culture, no innovation can thrive, no matter how innovative your talent actually is. So, it’s important to know the best practices to encourage innovation inside an organization.
In my experience working for more than a decade in the software development services industry, I’ve seen that the following 6 steps are the best paths toward an innovative culture.
1. Develop your strategies with an eye on the future. In today’s rush to meet highly dynamic demands, businesses may forget to think about the long term. While focusing on the challenges at hand is a must, you also need to make sure that what you’re doing today is laying the foundations for tomorrow’s success. For instance, you can tackle your current issues with a combination of technology, data, and an agile approach. All of that will surely help you take care of your problems today but will also help in building a more flexible, adaptive, and innovative company for the future.
2. Aim for diverse talent. The software development company I work for has a guiding principle: Talent always comes first. By being obsessed with talent, we only focus on the abilities of the people we hire, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what their beliefs are. That, in turn, allows us to collaborate with the most diverse teams out there, something that ultimately fosters innovation. How? By bringing together people with different perspectives and backgrounds who can exchange ideas freely to find new solutions to the company’s challenges.
3. Identify and reward innovation in your company. Know it or not, all companies have innovative talent among their team members. You need those innovators to foster an innovative culture, so it’s better if you institute mechanisms to identify and reward the most innovative people on your staff. While you can certainly provide incentives to people who come up with innovative solutions for tricky problems, the best path is to empower those innovative leaders with tools, resources, and talent at their disposal. That way, they can turn their ideas into a reality while boosting their teammates.
4. Invest in your talent through reskilling and upskilling programs. The business world is constantly morphing by adopting new technologies, methodologies, and tools. To truly leverage all of that and keep on the innovation path, your team needs to have the proper skills. You can’t expect them to learn or hone them on their own—you need to accompany your talent in their skill-building efforts. That’s why it’s best if you establish reskilling and upskilling programs to help your staff be up to date with their abilities while providing them with the skills they need to thrive in today’s context.
5. Accelerate your digital transformation. The process of adopting new technologies to boost business processes (aka “digital transformation”) had been a pivotal concept until the pandemic hit. Today, it remains critical, but the pace at which that adoption should take place is definitely faster than ever. That’s why we talk about digital acceleration—it’s a quick tech adoption process that provides your staff with the technology they need to provide value, fast. Digital acceleration is key to get the agility and infrastructure you need to innovate at every step, as it provides you with the resources you require to tackle all challenges you face.
6. Encourage entrepreneurship in your company. As I said already in point 2, many professionals in your company surely have new ideas and solutions for a lot of issues you face every day. Rewarding them and inviting them to tackle new challenges is just a part of what you can do for them. You should also invite them to take part in product and service development, offer them incentives for new ideas for untapped markets, and even organize teams of disruptors to let their ideas thrive. Doing all that will boost their entrepreneurial spirit, which can help your company while also teaching them a lot about the business side of things.
Steps Toward Success
Taking the 6 steps I’ve described above will surely put you on your way toward success via the innovation path. The best thing about those steps is that you don’t have to take them one at a time—you can take them all simultaneously and take a shortcut of sorts toward your goal of becoming more innovative.
I’m not saying that it will be easy, mind you. The road to fostering an innovative culture takes time and effort and requires everyone’s input. But it’s far from being an impossible task. You only need commitment, a well-developed strategy, and enough conviction to know that you’ll succeed despite the challenges you may find along the way.