Are You Struggling To Innovate?

Are Your “Telling” Your People To Innovate?

Now you may ask yourself, “Why is my company not innovative?”

You may be thinking to yourself:

  • Why can’t we be as innovative as everybody else in our space?
  • Why can’t we leapfrog our competitors?
  • Why can’t we envision innovative new products, services, or IP?
  • Why are we struggling to innovate?
  • Why can’t we go there?

Our competitors seem to be able to do it very easily and very quickly. Why can’t we?

I think it’s a simple thing, a very simple thing.

Personally, I feel that every human being can be creative.  Every human being can be innovative. Every human being can think outside the box.

What are you “telling” your employees to do? Your leadership may talk at length about the need to innovate. Talk of innovation may permeate all throughout your company. But what are your people being paid to do?

Are they being told to think outside the box, in action, not in words?

Think of your typical corporation. Think of your company.  Are your people being incentivized to innovate, or are they being incentivized only when they grow revenues and reduce costs?

Everyone knows that you get what you incentivize. If you’re incentivizing more sales then your people are going to try and get more sales. If you’re incentivizing selling more and more of your current products and services (whether the demand for those products or services if there or not) then people are going to work harder to sell your current products and services.

It’s simple. Whatever you’re incentivizing, that’s what people will do.

If you are wondering why innovation isn’t coming out of your organization is probably because you’re not incentivizing for it.

Where is the incentive for your people to innovate?

In many organizations, there is no incentive to innovate. Quite the opposite, there is a disincentive to innovate. If you spend time, money and effort developing innovative new products and services where you have no idea if you are going to be making any money, where you have no idea if they’ll improve the bottom line, where you have no idea if they’ll cut costs and increase revenues, why would you?

Can you hear your manager saying, “Why would we spend any time on anything like that?”

Think about some of the most innovative companies in the world, Google, Facebook, and Apple. Incentives to innovate are baked right into their jobs. They have been given the extra time and money to work on innovation which may or may not necessarily lead to profitability. They have been given the freedom to experiment, try things out, fail and repeat.

They are not simply left alone to innovate, they are incentivized to innovate. Innovators are awarded better work, internal and external recognition, bonuses in experiences and pay. In those organizations, innovation is rewarded, and as such innovation flourishes.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. You need to be able to provide your innovators with a safe place to reveal and explore ideas, even if those ideas are disruptive to your business. You need systems in place to gather, review and rate ideas. You need processes, people, and tools to make sure that the best ideas filter through. Without the incentive to innovate, people will find better things to do.

If you incentivize for innovation, you’ll get innovation.