For startups disrupting markets, ongoing innovation and creativity are essential. But with the pressures of running a business, how do you keep generating fresh ideas? Use these approaches to spark innovation:
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Lead with Curiosity
Cultivate an insatiably curious culture where everyone looks at things wondering “What if?” Reward inquiry, challenges to status quo thinking and probing questions.
Consider implications of trends and data. Dissect competitors and industry norms. Curiosity expands perspectives critical for creative breakthroughs.
Empower People to Experiment
Give team members latitude to identify issues, ideate solutions and run experiments. Establish a clear innovation process for submitting ideas, testing quickly and evaluating.
Protect time for tinkering and trials. Expect some failures along with successes. Build employees’ sense of ownership to uncover breakthroughs.
Foster Diversity of Thought and Backgrounds
Innovate by assembling diverse teams encompassing a mix of disciplines, experiences, work styles, demographics and perspectives.
Bring unconventional thinkers onto the team. Diversity prevents groupthink and inspires wider viewpoints, cross-pollination of ideas and questioning assumptions.
Stay Plugged into Emerging Technologies
Monitor innovations, breakthroughs and developments in adjacent spaces. Follow news from relevant research labs, academic programs, startups and patents.
Identify potentially disruptive technologies to deploy or defend against early. Cutting-edge awareness sparks new possibilities.
Look beyond your own walls by partnering with other companies, universities, researchers, suppliers and even competitors on innovations.
Joint projects allow you to gain new knowledge and access resources not available alone. Open innovation cultivates breakthrough thinking.
Inspire with Big Ambition
Set hugely ambitious innovation goals that disrupt your own business model before competitors do. Make people feel they are part of changing the world.
Bold ambition is contagious. When employees feel purpose, they think expansively. Back visions with funding and priorities or risk inertia.
Innovation requires questioning all assumptions, norms, sacred cow processes and basic premises of how things are done. Never be fully satisfied.
Reject thinking like “that’s how it has always been” that limits creativity. Be willing to reinvent systems, ditch legacy practices and kill outdated offerings.
Celebrate Ideas and Effort
Make sure creativity and experimentation get celebrated, not just successful outcomes. Recognize ideas, progress and insights even if initial results underwhelm.
Reward employees who demonstrate initiative and creative-thinking. Failure should build resilience, not fear.
Give Space for Incubation
Don’t pressure teams to constantly deliver on short time horizons. Provide flexibility for more open-ended exploration and tinkering.
Protect staff from overburdened schedules that leave no margin for original development. Unstructured time fuels imagination and serendipity.
Fostering ongoing innovation requires instilling curiosity, seeking diversity, allowing experiments, inspiring passion and celebrating ideas. Make it safe to challenge status quo thinking. With the right culture, creativity flourishes.