Encourage innovation in your business

There are many sources you can use to help generate new ideas for the business.

Suppliers, business partners and business network contacts can all make valuable contributions to the creative process, as well as providing support and encouragement.

Your employees are also a vital asset in generating innovative ideas.

To get the most from them, you need to create an innovative environment and encourage creative thinking.

Steps to promote innovation

1. Make sure you have processes and events to capture ideas. For example, you could set up suggestion boxes around the workplace or hold regular workshops or occasional company away days to brainstorm ideas.

2. Create a supportive atmosphere in which people feel free to express their ideas without the risk of criticism or ridicule.

3. Encourage risk taking and experimentation – don’t penalize people who try new ideas that fail.

4. Promote openness between individuals and teams. Good ideas and knowledge in one part of your business should be shared with others. Teamwork, newsletters and intranets can all help your people share information and encourage innovation.

5. Stress that people at all levels of the business share responsibility for innovation, so everybody feels involved in taking the business forward. The fewer the layers of management or decision making in your organization, the more people feel their ideas matter.

6. Reward innovation and celebrate success. Appropriate incentives can play a significant role in encouraging staff to think creatively.

7. Look for imagination and creativity when recruiting new employees. Remember that innovative thinkers aren’t always those with the most impressive list of qualifications.