In today’s marketplace, big companies are more vulnerable than ever to being antiquated by emerging disruptive technologies. A single idea can displace an entire industry. At the moment, technology is improving at an exponential rate, ensuring that revolutionary ideas are almost commonplace. So how do the top companies retain their position of prominence? While there’s certainly a lot that goes into keeping a company on top, one of the most important methods is constant innovation.
Retaining a commitment to innovation is incredibly difficult in the modern business world. Long-term employees may become complacent after years of work, while external consultants often lack the specialized education required to capitalize upon unseen opportunities. This said, there are still a number of ways leaders can overcome these obstacles; I have listed a few of the most effective options below:
Make Your Mission Clear.
Make it clear how truly significant the mission statement is to the company. It’s easy to dismiss mission statements as vague dogma, but a clear mission can give a company and its employees a solid direction. Done well, it can be the foundation of the enterprise, and can make workers feel that they are part of a larger purpose.
If employees truly believe in the mission of the company, then they will work for the benefit of the company in addition to a biweekly paycheck. When they feel that they have a purpose and are part of the team, they will put forth their best effort and look for ways to optimize efficiency. If they are merely working for a paycheck, particularly if they’ve been working for a long time, there’s a good chance that they won’t be motivated to improve their methods or try new things.
As a natural extension of this, you will need to be flexible with your mission and realize that changing technology and business practices can give you cause to update it; just be sure that the rest of your company is on board.
Listen to Your Employees.
This really shouldn’t have to be repeated, but the worst thing a business leader can do is assume that they know more than their employees. Don’t just wait for them to come to you with innovative ideas, actively seek out anyone in the company that might have thoughts on how to get ahead.
One way to foster new ideas is by asking deeper questions. Encourage employees to expand on rough ideas, and find insight into methods that may or may not work. Ideation is a gradual process; the first step is figuring out the root of any problem you may have. By engaging employees in conversation, you can find problems in your company that you may have not considered as an executive.
Leaders should never be afraid to fail. One must fail in order to learn or innovate. Not every idea will be profitable, but constantly striving for improvement will help a company anticipate and adapt to disruptive trends.
One important thing to keep in mind when implementing an experimental workplace culture is that there shouldn’t be any barriers to creation. Your company’s social protocols can inhibit new ideas, so be sure that you’ve created the right environment to grow new ideas and enable all employees to contribute to the process.
Innovation should not be an end goal, it should be a process. By perpetually innovating, you are giving yourself an advantage over competitors and preparing for any situation that may arise.