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How Can Businesses Help Foster Innovation?

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If there's one thing that the past recessions have taught smart businesses, it's that innovative organization always try to look for opportunities and take on the market share of poorly-managed, hibernating enterprises that are trying to survive by bunkering down. Consumer demands continue to push large and small companies to deliver better and more affordable products or services. There isn't any room in today's global marketplace, and those who are unable to innovate will likely be left behind. To that end, here are a few ways businesses can foster innovation.

Start with the culture of your business

People tend to perform at their best when driven, inspired, and encouraged to think outside of the box and go beyond boundaries. Unfortunately, employees will be less inclined to do this if they don’t feel like their insights matter. As such, it makes sense to start with the culture of your business when fostering innovation. When your entire company brainstorms, the process behind refining suggestions and finding value-creating ideas becomes phenomenally quicker.


Software Can Help Centralise Information And Suggestions

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that new tech can be utilised to elevate and accelerate even the most simple operations within your business. In this way, you might not be aware that there are software and applications which can help with the brainstorming process, making it more efficient, practical, and (most importantly) effective in the long run. Using idea management software, for instance, can streamline the process and make it far more quick and easy. Ideas are collaborated and collected in one central place and it enables you to immediately involve employees and clients in the process as well. Helping you to collect information and turn those ideas into action items quicker than you otherwise would have been able to.


Benchmark against competitors

Companies never trade in vacuums—all organizations are within an ecosystem of business that consists of industry partners, clients, and competitors. And to determine whether or not your enterprise is innovative enough, you need to find out who the best are in your niche market or sector and benchmark against rivals. Doing so won't just allow you to find areas in your operations that require improvement, but you may even learn more effective tactics and strategies that you can use to reach your goals.


Tolerate mistakes

An effective tool for promoting innovation and creativity is recognition. After all, it’s human nature to aspire to be rewarded and recognized accordingly for initiatives and ideas. And the adoption of this practice can have a significant payoff for your organization. One of the reasons employees usually don’t give their insight is they are afraid of rocking the boat or making themselves look like fools if their opinion is frowned upon. By tolerating mistakes and rewarding them for pitching in, they're more likely to contribute a lot more.


Adopt a flat structure for management

Innovative companies generally have flat structures for management, allowing for more opportunities in opening communication while encouraging confidence. However, this management structure won't fit all businesses. If it doesn't align with your company or geographic culture, don't worry. An excellent alternative is to have an innovation champion who will be responsible for bringing great ideas to the attention of upper management. Whichever method you implement, be sure to have clear lines of communication in the organization.


Conclusion

Adopting the strategies listed above will allow your business to improve, measure, manage, map, and systematize innovation. While they may require some work and time, it’s well worth the investment when you consider the returns your efforts can generate. So make the above-mentioned strategies a part of your company’s operations and start innovating.


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