Faust is a growth and turnaround consultant, syndicated writer, professional speaker and executive coach to owners and CEOs. Since 1990, he has run Echelon Management International. Faust begins with innovation and describes how companies can start a process toward becoming innovative. Here are the Seven Parts of Building an Innovation Culture that begins the “Echeloned Innovation Process.”
1. Prioritize from the top down
The foundation for a culture of accelerated innovation is the titular leader’s firm resolution and well-publicized commitment that innovation is a top priority. The top dog must consistently communicate this focus and motivate the team with it.
2. Clarify your innovation values
Employees will want a values list to include things like respect and honesty, but the top leader needs to ensure that those values that are key to innovation’s success are also included. Humility is a foundational value, as it requires everyone to admit that there could always be a better way, and that others may have better insight or answers. Open communication and safety in communicating problems are critical values, as people will clam up if an authority figure pounces on their suggestions for areas to improve.
3. Get all hands on deck
Because every facet of the business can be improved, every person must be committed to making regular efforts for improvement.
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4. Initially focus on quantity vs. quality
A key to success in innovation is generating the optimum quantity of ideas, as it is better to have created 1,000 new ideas than only a handful of excellent ideas in your initial efforts. Research consistently proves that a quantity of ideas will beget better-quality ideas in the end.
5. Consistently communicate implementation and success
Getting everyone to begin looking for improvement opportunities and solutions for implementation changes the thinking and habits of the team. To continue the growth of such habits, employees must have a workplace environment with continuous feedback.
6. Give specific and universal rewards
Management may lament that it’s everyone’s job to keep an eye out for what can be improved, but the fact is that strategically recognized and incentivized good behaviors become repeated and habitual. Individuals who recommend ideas that have significant impact on profits should be given significant rewards.
7. Make innovation a Möbius strip
Leading and managing the innovation process and culture takes work, and thus, when times are good, some may want to rest and ride out their competitive advantages. But innovation must be an ongoing process at sustainable levels. The process must be more like the path of a Möbius strip: never-ending, consistent and based on the single plane of an innovation-based, values-oriented culture.