Fostering Innovation: Six Ways to Encourage Your Team to Produce New Ideas
At some point, you and your team members may start to feel at a loss for new ideas.
When you've spent years in the same industry, and even at the same company, it can
be challenging to continue to feel innovative and creative. Much of this is due to
situations like a dip in morale, burnout, and a lack of change in work routines and
tasks. However, there has likely never been a more crucial time where idea generation
According to studies and insights from firms like
the emergence of trends like increased online shopping, a rise of diversity in consumer
populations, and an ever-changing technological environment is causing consumers to be
in a constant state of rapidly changing preferences.
This development means that project managers and their teams have to be agile enough to
consider and implement new ideas to stay relevant. So, what can you do to foster an environment
of innovation? Here are some tactics you and your teams can use to keep idea generation going.
Create Ownership and Autonomy
People are more likely to improve things they care about and have a stake in. Think about the
last time you created something or were in charge of an idea from start to finish. You likely
felt a high level of involvement or investment in the evolution of the idea. You want to keep
this scenario in mind when you are trying to create investment among your team. You want your
team members to feel some sense of ownership in the project.
This can be done by letting them own and manage processes, delegating tasks to them, and letting
them know how important they are to what you need to accomplish. All of these tactics can help
them feel ownership in what you are doing.
Research by the University of Birmingham
found that autonomy significantly contributed to workplace happiness and well-being, which can
both foster an environment where employees can feel comfortable offering new ideas. This step
will make them more likely to improve upon processes, which can lead to new and valuable ideas.
Share What You are Reading and Listening To
This step may not seem like a solid plan, but this can be a game-changer for your team. Think
about the last time you had a great idea. Did anything like a TED Talk, podcast, or an exciting
new book contribute to it? Today, we are surrounded by more and more resources for learning.
Getting out of your comfort zone to learn something new is easier now than ever before. Today,
employers realize this.
Many job interviewers may directly ask questions about "what podcasts are you listening to?" or
"what's the most interesting book you have read this year?" It's vital that you are always reading
to learn something new. It would help if you cultivated this mindset among your team. Share what
you are reading and listening to, and inspire your team to do the same. This action can encourage
them to read and lean into the resources around them.
Every idea isn't going to work, and that's okay. You want to make sure your team feels comfortable
enough to share ideas and know that the ship isn't going to sink if they don't work. For employees
from places like
to develop their ideas, they had to be given the freedom to fail. Often, employees may shy away from
pursuing that idea or taking the time to create that presentation for a new strategy if they think
their job hinges on the idea's success.
So, build an environment where your team members have the security to try out new things. Again,
it never hurts to create a contingency plan in case things don't work out, but embrace a
"mistake-friendly" outlook that allows you to be open to new ideas and strategies.
Create Times for Your Team to Strategize and Plan
It's well-known that Google
builds-in time ,
for their teams to brainstorm and come up with great ideas. These meetings are included in the
work-time of their employees. If your team members are pulling eight to 10 hour days, they will
not have the time to create their own moments for brainstorming. As a result, it's essential
that you set aside some time for your team members to do this. Building in time for idea
generation shows that you value this activity and invest in your team’s ability to come up with
great strategies and ideas.
Ask for Ideas
In addition to allowing teams to have the time to brainstorm, you should also make it very
clear that you desire this from your team. Don't hesitate to ask them for their ideas. You
may want to structure this in the form of an internal pitch event or pull aside team members
that you think have a skillset to create a particular proposal. Your team members may have
some great ideas or thoughts, but they may not know where they fit.
So, build some structure around this process. Look at the areas within your company that can
use some idea generation and then reach out to team members and directly ask them for ideas
and solutions. You would be surprised to know that your team members may already have some
innovative approaches to issues that have long been causing your company's problems.
Allow Your Teams to Learn
Training and development are critical to encouraging new ideas and involvement from your team.
When your team members are learning new things, it automatically puts them in the headspace to
begin asking questions, offering new insights, and pursuing new projects. Training and
development don't have to be expensive or challenging.
It can be as simple as paying for them to take a few online workshops and attend a virtual
conference or arranging for your team members to be mentored by others in the company. Give
them opportunities to learn and develop. This action will enable them to be in an even better
position to contribute ideas and offer solutions to the problems you and your company may be facing.
Human Capital and Ideas are Some of the Best Investments in your Company
Your team member’s ideas and insights are some of the best resources you can have within your
team. Each team member is going to have a unique perspective that will allow
them to contribute valuable ideas. Therefore, use the steps above to make idea generation a
priority. Once you give your team the environment and go-ahead to think outside of the box,
the more it will benefit your teams, projects, and clients.
8 Rules Molding Apple Innovation Culture,
Anyone Can Innovate – 10 Years of Great Ideas,
Guide: Foster an innovative workplace,
How Google's 20 Percent Rule Can Make You More Productive and Energetic,
Research says this is the secret to being happy at work,
The consumer is changing, but perhaps not how you think,
The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing,