1. Teach your employees to see themselves as innovators
Chances probably are, your next handful of innovative ideas are already within your four walls. However, if you don’t have a system in place to properly foster innovation, ideas that come down the pipeline might seem half-baked or straight-up batty. This might require you to revisit your organization’s competencies and assets (you don’t sell a product, you sell a solution), remind your team that customers are people (not numbers), and encourage a culture that challenges invisible industry “rules.” Disruption frequently metamorphosizes into innovation.
2. Invite retroactive process feedback
Sometimes the most powerful innovations are just small tweaks to current systems and procedures. A regular retroactive process feedback meeting is a way to keep your team feeling involved, heard, and trusted in bringing new ideas forward. Collectively, your team is a knowledge and experience powerhouse — so use it!
3. Make learning the new normal
Innovation comes from employees who are constantly learning. A great way to inspire learning is for employees to take turns sharing a piece of industry news at weekly meetings (we do this!). It gives your team the leeway to learn on the job, the space to reflect on their own, and finally, ownership of the collaborative dynamics that come from bringing something new to the table.
4. Start with you
At the very least, innovation is overwhelming. That’s why it’s imperative to start small with simpler initiatives before moving on. This not only helps you build inclusion, trust, and openness with your team, but also gives you a chance to get your feet wet first. Think about how you may need to change personally to create an open, participatory culture that unleashes innovation.
You may have to shift your identity from “powerful leader” to “leader that innovates through shared power,” and that’s ok!