05.03.19

4 Ways To Take Corporate Innovation To The Next Level

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE NIIC

Talk about innovation is cheap. How do you actually create a culture in which innovative (transformative and disruptive not just incremental) thinking is the norm? Here are a few factors I believe are critical to curating an innovation-driven mindset in the workplace:

1. An organizational commitment to continuous innovation

“Kaizen” is a phrase first introduced by the Japanese in a manufacturing setting. It means a commitment to continually evolving and improving. It means never being satisfied with the status quo because there’s always room to do better.

How can you inspire employees to adopt this mindset? Start by asking them after meetings or project events, “What did you learn?” The question will prompt them to stop and think about what’s working and what’s not. This will no doubt put them on a trajectory of continuous improvement. The Northeast Indiana commits to the ISO9001:2015 quality system because it focuses on risk-based monitoring and continuous innovation as core principles of our operating system.

2. Mission (not just metric)-driven strategy

Achieving outcomes should be a byproduct of fulfilling your organizational mission, not the other way around. For the company to be successful, employees need to have a deeper understanding of priorities and why they matter in the context of the organization’s higher calling and purpose. Measuring program impact is critical to understanding and achieving meaningful outcomes.

3. Fail FORWARD faster

Employees need to feel at home by taking calculated risks without the fear of repercussions in the workplace. Yet, too often in the business world, we expect employees to execute correctly the first time around. This creates an environment in which people feel gun shy, and innovation is stifled or only focused on incremental improvements What would happen if you created a nurturing culture and a common language around failure?

4. Be intellectually curious and always in discovery mode

Don’t operate in silos. Innovation doesn’t belong to a single department or position. It’s all around us. Think in terms of ‘Big I’ innovation and ‘Little I’ innovation.” There are different kinds of changes. For example, your accounting department may be able to inspire ways to elevate customer service and vice versa. Sometimes the best insight comes from people with a fresh and different perspective. And when people all come together toward a focused mission, great things happen.

Could your organization use a jump start in the way its leveraging innovation? Look no further than The NIIC’s Corporate Innovation program. By incorporating the use of So What, Who Cares, Why Me?™ Program, The NIIC helps drive ideation and action across your business or organization. Using WKI’s proprietary approach and online toolset, we take teams of up to ten people through a six-week innovation program. During this time, teams work together to create a pipeline of great quantity ideas while quantifying the top potential business opportunities of your organization or consider the NIIC as your outsourced Chief Innovation Officer to help keep culture, systems, metrics, and talent in alignment for innovation success.

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