In today’s workplace, a company must change to move ahead. This requires a corporate culture that supports innovation. (Whereas “invention” is the creation of a new idea, “innovation” is that new idea actually put to the test.) And because experimenting with new ideas can sometimes lead to a dead end, a success-oriented company must encourage a tolerance for failure.
It’s really not hard to help your employees reach their creative potential. You simply remove the barriers that impede their innovative ideas. Here’s how:
- Build trust by telling the truth.
Make sure employees know what is expected of them – then be consistent in your speech and behavior.
- Promote risk-taking.
Use interviews or anonymous surveys to determine if employees hold back ideas – then explain why your company values creative thinking.
- Suspend judgment when employees offer recommendations.
Say “yes, and…” instead of “yes, but…”
- Remove fear of blame for ideas that don’t work out.
Explain that the company holds employees responsible for ideas – which is different from criticizing them when those ideas meet with failure.
- Help employees understand failures to prevent repeat occurrences.
Involve those accountable in after-action reviews, and then make sure all employees understand why an idea did not succeed.
You cannot deny the need for certainty. It’s only natural for the mind to predict and control the future. But since the only certainty is change, the only companies who keep ahead of the curve are those which encourage innovation – even at the cost of failure.