By: David Chung
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” –Steve Jobs
In the competitive marketplace, customers have many choices, and successful businesses must stand out from the rest. Thus, providing innovative products, services, or approaches for fulfilling customers’ needs and wants is not only for the tech industry—it is central to the success of every business, and it must be an integral part of a business strategy.
For all the talk about innovation, I see many leaders of organizations in every sector who actively stifle it. I have compiled Four Magical Steps for cultivating innovation in your workplace:
Step 1: Act as a Role Model
Step 2: Create a Show-Time
Step 3: Think in Different Ways
Step 4: Appreciate Every Small Win

 

Step 1: Act as a Role Model

Frame the way you want to change working procedures, industrial practices, and the world’s agenda and make it about the customer’s needs and wants. Then, try your best to work it out or make something (even a small thing) happen, and share the results with your teammates.
Important! You should believe you can be an innovative team leader before motivating your teammates to innovate in their roles.

Step 2: Create a Show-Time 

Provide your teammates with “unstructured” time to explore more options or conduct different kinds of brainstorming activities to find solutions or explore challenging questions.
Below is useful resource for helping you (and your teammates) to think in different ways: 15 tools for solo brainstorming
You are welcome to choose any time slot at any venue during working hours, but don’t choose lunchtime, because it is difficult for people to innovate when they feel hungry.

Step 3: Think in Different Ways

Provide some innovative problem-solving tools that give guidance and structure, but let teammates decide how best to use and apply them. Remember! People can change the outcomes of thinking if they use different thinking modes, ways, processes, or tools.
Below are two useful resources for helping you (and your teammates) to think in different ways:

Step 4: Appreciate Every Small Win

Don’t just recognize people who create comprehensive and detailed innovative proposals, but also provide recognition every day through informal interaction. Many great ideas come from continual improvement of small ideas!

Conclusion

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” – Simon Sinek

As a pro-active & innovative team leader, you should print out this article and share it with your teammates NOW. Let your teammates walk the talk in the upcoming week. I strongly believe that the innovative culture of your team will evolve afterward.