Culture Initiatives to Inspire Innovation at Work
“[Innovation] is not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it,” as noted in Harvard Business Review.
In order to lay the foundation for innovation at work, change must be welcomed and encouraged on an ongoing basis. Change is at the core of staying competitive and fostering a strong company culture. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes four steps for creating a high-performance company culture through change:
Step 1—Motivate Change
Step 2—Lay Foundation
Step 3—Sustain Behavior
Step 4—Monitor and Improve
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is similar to what we at CultureIQ call culture management. This is the iterative process of proactively managing your company culture through ongoing employee feedback and monitoring culture metrics.
So, change and innovation at work are undeniably important. However, companies often find themselves in a rut, because it can be challenging to innovate on… well, innovation. And that’s why we’re here to help!
Here are a few ideas to add to your initiative repertoire if you need to spice things up:
To inspire innovation, sometimes you have to leave the office. Seize industry-related learning opportunities and trainings to help employees think outside of the box. According to SEO and president Tom Pirrone of the space technology and services corporation SSC US, “Big ideas don’t always come from within. To think outside the box, you need to be outside of the box,” as reported by Wharton@Work.
Afford your employees a chance to get outside of the boundaries of your office with topical events, conferences, lectures, and classes. This gives attendees a fresh perspective, in addition to new ideas regarding industry standards, practices, and services.
Additionally, you can take team building events out the office for a fresh perspective. For example, we took our company values discussion to a nearby state park, and brainstormed over a camp fire.
Just like going outside of the office to shake things up, it can also help to invite someone from outside of the office inside the office.
Guest speakers are ideal for inspiring and educating employees, and you can choose one that is appropriate for your industry or a specific problem you are working to solve. Some speakers focus on topics of creativity and innovation specifically, but others will encourage new ways of thinking through their stories alone.
Mentoring is nothing new. However, it has evolved from the traditional boss-to-employee model. In addition to the traditional one-to-one mentorship, today’s mentorship programs include the following formats:
- Peer mentoring
- Group mentoring
- Reverse mentoring
- Speed mentoring
By tailoring mentorship programs to specific needs in the workplace, you can take this performance-focused initiative to the next level.
Reverse mentoring is perhaps the most effective for innovation. Reverse mentoring provides an outlet for younger, less experienced employees to educate senior level employees. Let’s face it, the youngest generation of the workforce might be more up-to-date on the latest technological advancements, social media tools, and relevant pop culture trends. Reverse mentoring is a fun way to connect two people who might not usually work directly together to encourage new ideas.
A crucial part of innovation is providing the tools for employees to move ideas through the organization. Everyone has great ideas, it’s just a matter of finding a place to collect them so they can be evaluated and implemented.
Idea repositories can be a physical box, white board, or idea wall. They can also take a digital form, such as a discussion board, a special email account, a regular survey, or a special software. Whichever format you choose, it should be known by and accessible to all employees.
To encourage participation, ask for ideas and suggestions around a specific theme and highlight why it is important to the company. Regularly remind employees about the idea repository, or make it social and collaborative by creating opportunities for employees to brainstorm.