Innovate. Innovation. Innovative. These words get thrown around a lot these days. As far as our organization’s self-image is concerned, we’d all like to think of ourselves as innovative. After all, it implies a progressive, forward-thinking view of the world and a willingness to challenge the status quo and embrace evolution (and the occasional revolution).
Reality, however, often tells a different story. While it’s convenient to tack on the word "innovative" to our marketing materials, actually cultivating a culture and value system of innovation is easier said than done. Every company with even a semblance of success faces a harsh reality: the gravitational pull of success tends to make us change less and not more. Oddly, companies often need to be in serious trouble to start to think innovatively.
What can you do to cultivate and spawn innovation within your company? There are many approaches, but one is deceptively obvious: put in place and institutionalize real mechanisms for cultivating, measuring, and rewarding innovation. Innovation is an amorphous, easily-abused concept. By laying down real avenues for sharing, discussing, and recognizing ideas, your company can elevate innovation from catchphrase to a bona-fide company trait.