There’s a popular proverb that says there’s nothing new under the sun. In business today, this thought rings very true.
These days, it seems like for every product or service, there are at least 2 others offering the exact same solution. It seems like for every Uber, there’s a Taxify/Bolt and Lyft.
This challenging terrain in business these days has made it so staying competitive today is synonymous with innovation. To get customers’ attention and gain their loyalty, you have to deliver something they’ve never seen before in a way that satisfies and delights them, even surpasses their expectations.
So what do Airbnb, Netflix, Uber, and Tesla have in common? They have upturned century-old industries with new ways of delivering service and product solutions to people. These companies are proof that to succeed in today’s cutthroat world, you must innovate. And to innovate your company, and your team has to be creative.
Being creative goes beyond simply stating that your company is creative; it means building a culture and work environment that allows creativity to thrive.
So how do you run an innovative team, and how do you drive innovation within your team?
Here are 5 questions to consider when you’re running an innovative ship:
Are you driving a purpose-driven vision that the whole team is behind?
First and very important to running an innovative team, is to have and build a shared vision of the future. Sharing a collective vision of the future, backed by a strong purpose helps guide your team to deliver above expectations.
How aware is your team of your company’s future vision? And if they are aware, do they actively work towards this future vision? This is important to having a motivated and driven team as you drive towards growth.
Are you empowering your team?
Are members of your team empowered to make decisions, or do they have to constantly follow a given set of rules? Empowering your staff to make decisions allows them to think of new and unconventional solutions. Even better is when your customer-facing staff are allowed to make decisions and approach problems with solutions. Because they’re ‘with’ customers, their solutions will place into consideration their observations and direct feedback customers have given them, this is priceless.
How customized is your work environment to your team’s needs?
Is your workspace set up to answer to your employees’ needs and working patterns? How flexible is your work environment? Is your team able to ‘design’ their work areas and create systems that support their working? Do you have a flexible workspace that can be moved around to suit your team or is the workspace rigid and unmovable with team members working around set-in-stone work stations?
Flexible workspaces have been proven to boost teams’ creativity and productivity. Allowing your team to design their work areas also opens doors to new and effective ways of working, as effective processes can be adapted across the entire team.
Do you welcome iteration and experimentation?
How open is your team to trying new and unconventional ideas? How open are they to feedback from customers and critique from other members within the organization? Is the concept of experimentation shunned? Are failures considered big no-nos that can’t happen again or are they seen as learning opportunities?
A team that allows for feedback from within (team members) and without, (customers) and constantly iterates based on feedback gotten has been proven to progress faster than others. Building systems around ‘failures’, so learnings can be derived from them and way forward can be decided upon, is a great way to building a culture that thrives in innovation.
Is your company’s leadership innovation-prone or not?
Are team members encouraged to try new and out-of-the-box ideas? How open and invested is leadership in design processes such as user-experience, user-testing, and iteration.
In McKinsey’s Value of Design 2018 Report, leaders that treated design just importantly as revenue and costs performed far ahead of their peers, delivering substantially more in Total Return to Shareholders and Revenue*
Use these yardsticks to measure innovation within your company or with your team. If you find that you’re lacking, begin to move in this direction.