4 Companies Who Foster Innovation

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / January 30, 2014

team innovation

Do You Know How To Make Your Teams Innovate?

Most organizations realize that in today’s competitive world simply plodding on and delivering more of the same will only get you so far. If you keep on producing the same products and services, year on year, with minimal development, sooner rather than later, a new disruptive player will enter the market and eat your lunch. There’s no doubt, that to get ahead and stay ahead your organization needs to build innovative new products and services – and to do this you need to build innovative teams. Just look at Apple, Google, Samsung and Proctor and Gamble, some of the most innovative and successful organizations in the world. But, how do the most innovative companies create innovative teams?

Below we have set out some techniques that you can use to encourage innovation in your own teams.

Annual Innovation Competition.

Many organizations hold annual innovation competitions where employees are invited to put forward innovative ideas and suggestions to improve the business. One of the most notable of these is the annual innovation competition by Tata Group, called Innovista What stands out about this competition is not only are the most successful innovative ideas recognized but there is also an award for the least successful but ambitious innovations, which shows that is OK to fail.

20% time.

The idea of 20% time was originated at Google where they allowed their engineers to have 20% of their time to work on research and development and new and creative projects that could benefit the business in some way. 3M have a similar innovation programme known as 15% time, where employees are allocated 15% of their working time to innovate. 15%, 20%  time (or whichever per cent time you choose), is a tried and tested way to foster innovation in your business.

Hack Day.

This concept has been popularized by Yahoo who have their own Hack Day which is an organizational conference which many of their engineers attend, enabling them to collaborate with lots of other engineers with the aim of them coming up with a great idea for the business in just one day or perhaps a few days. This innovation day concept started in the technological world but this is equally applicable to many business sectors and now many other companies in other industries operate their own versions of a hack day where employees come together to collaborate, incubate and harness ideas and ultimately to innovate.

Imagination Breakthroughs.

General Electric originated the idea of imagination breakthroughs where their managers were tasked with coming up with three radical business proposals a year that could take  GE into a new business area. This can easily be replicated in your organization in that you can ‘goal’ your managers and staff to come up with innovative ideas each year.

As you can see, there are many ways you can encourage innovation, but what is also important is that you have a mechanism for harnessing these ideas and turning them into reality. Both GE and TATA set up innovation councils to select the best ideas and assign budgets and oversee the implementation of the new idea – and ideally you would adopt a similar approach in order to harness and channel innovation.

Sep Bar is a blogger for skyprep.com, an online tool for companies to train, test and certify employees. Sep regular posts blogs about HR, L&D and corporate training.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.