How to Foster Innovation with Company Culture

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It is no secret that a successful business must find a way to set itself apart. Though many of us seek out effective marketing strategies to do that for us, the biggest players in the global marketplace set themselves apart by innovating: Google, Red Box, Amazon, Toyota, GoPro and so many more.

By inserting a spirit of innovation into company culture you are kick starting your company’s trajectory to revolutionize your industry, become a household name and increase the value of working for and with you. Keep reading for five ways to foster innovation in your company culture.

Create Structure for
Unstructured Time

Because we are so intimately involved with our jobs, many of us have ideas for how to improve upon processes or make our lives better. But we live in a busy world, and there just isn’t time to properly develop our ideas into something functional. By setting aside time for personal development and experimentation, your employees will be able to seek out ways to make your business more valuable.

3M and Google give their employees an allowance of 10 percent of their time to work toward experimentation and brainstorming new ideas. You can encourage your employees to take advantage of their personal development time by offering resources like taking a free college course on edX, watching a series of Ted Talks or asking them to develop an idea they may have mentioned in passing. The key is to create time for them to do it.

Write a Compelling Vision Statement

Most corporate missions and visions are cut from the same cloth: “Become the #1 provider of blah, blah blah.” These generic goals do little to spark ingenuity. Instead, frame the way you want to change the world by making it about the consumer.

The software company Intuit, developer of TurboTax, does a great job of shaping company culture by taking advantage of their vision statement: “To improve our customers’ financial lives so profoundly they can’t imagine going back to the old way.” Now that is a great way to inspire innovation.

Measure What’s Meaningful

This concept is simple enough. If you take the time to measure something, you and your associates will work to improve it. So, choosing something meaningful to measure is key. Choose to measure what sets you apart in your industry. But most importantly, focus on why you have chosen it and communicate that with everyone who will be working to improve it. This will create a sense of ownership and pride in your organization as things improve or in the event they don’t

Champion Generativity

Take time to connect, coach, mentor and develop your employees and coworkers. Constructively challenge their thinking, strategy, and behavior through the lens of innovation. Stretch people to create, innovate, and envision alternative futures. By taking the time to grow your people, you will invite them to stretch themselves and innovate.

Ask Questions and Listen

Take the time to step back and be open and curious. Ask difficult questions and listen deeply. Strive to ask follow-up questions to challenge yourself and others to go deeper and stretch further. These questions shouldn’t have right answers but should instead work to uncover diverse viewpoints. Choosing to ask deeper questions helps form the linguistics of innovation.

Of course, the first step to inspiring innovation is choosing to make it a priority for your business. If you take the time to focus on fostering innovation by building it into your company culture, you can create opportunities to grow your business while empowering your employees.