Innovation in your business can help you stay competitive, keep your customers interested, and help your company function more efficiently. Moreover, new ideas don’t have to come only from the business owner. Your team might also have great ideas, and if you give them a chance to share them and nurture their creation, your business will be all the stronger for it. Here are five tips for encouraging innovation among your team members.

1. Provide Time for Experimentation

Give employees time for experimentation outside of their regularly scheduled duties. Have you ever heard of Google's "20 percent time?" This is where Google management encourages employees to use one day a week to essentially work on whatever they want. Engineers use this time to work on interesting and outside-the-box projects that they otherwise wouldn't be able to.

Your business doesn't necessarily have to follow Google’s formula, but giving employees a chance to put their minds to use in different ways is a great way to encourage innovation.

2. Incentivize Ideas

Consider giving a reward to those who come up with remarkable ideas. You don't have to give out large bonuses, but some reward shows you're interested in new ways of doing things. Even if you don't use the ideas, you show your appreciation and give them a reason to keep voicing and sharing thoughts with you and others on the team.

3. Get Your Employees Collaborating

Employees working with one another can create synergy. Put different groups of people together on projects. When the right minds get together, they can come up with some of the company's best ideas.

"The perfect example of effective collaboration is a good old-fashioned brainstorming session," says the team at Asana. (1) "This exercise allows everyone on the team to contribute their ideas and benefit the project by creating innovative solutions to complex problems."

The team also notes the importance of honest communications and open discussions, adding, "In order for teams to be able to work together effectively, you have to be willing to ask questions, dig into specific points, and even disagree in order to move work forward. Though open and honest communication isn’t always the easiest—or most comfortable—being a collaborative team means co-creating to build better solutions, listening to input from other team members, and working together toward your goals."

4. Find Fresh Perspectives

Make diversity a priority for your team. The more people from different backgrounds you can add to the mix, the more perspectives you will have at the table. People can bring different experiences to the problems you're trying to solve, and that means a fresh perspective can help you see those problems in an entirely different light. Better yet, you might be able to come up with solutions your competitors are unable to conceive of.

5. Making Mistakes Is Okay

Make sure your team knows that it's okay if their ideas don't always work out. You're in this together and trying to find the right solutions. Tell them you realize there will likely be some stumbles along the way.

"When employees feel safe voicing ideas, they are more willing to try new things," says Ivan Widjaya at (2) "A politically charged environment can stifle creative problem-solving, whereas senior leaders who soothe troubled waters often create safe shallows for team members to engage in creative thought. Similarly, a positive outlook on failure means leaders can help their teams learn from their mistakes and mistakes made by others without taking the blame themselves. This is a big challenge in organizations where the blame game can be especially prevalent."

Remember that failure is a natural part of the pathway to innovation, and eventually, to success.

Innovation is important in today's fast-paced business world. Remain stagnant, and you will fall behind. You can count on the fact that your competitors are looking for ways to improve their products and processes, so if you want to not only stay relevant, but also get ahead of other companies, find ways to foster innovation within your company.





The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC