Innovation 101: How to Instill Innovation in Your Tech Company

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fastspringA simple statement to make, but where do you start? This is a common ideal embodied within many companies who are trying to set themselves apart by leveraging their key talent to create new and, you guessed it, innovative products. Employers must encourage their team players every day to bring new ideas to the company table — but how?

The challenge employers face today is identifying key motivational drivers to encourage employees to think outside the box and push themselves beyond their limits. Technology companies such as Adobe and Amazon are key industry leaders who have demonstrated their own, innovative approaches to company culture, while simultaneously encouraging innovation.

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Companies like these are backed with a mindset of quality, not quantity. While a product team can produce product update after update, consumers crave new ways to interact with technology at their utmost convenience.

Based on my deep-dive into the topic of innovation, I’d like to offer three ways you can encourage and promote innovation within your own company, which include, hosting an annual employee summit, challenging your teams and the public with creative events, and utilizing internal resources to capture innovative ideas.

Innovative Idea #1: Host a Company Summit

Company culture is a key component to creating a motivated team. To keep things simple, here’s my own formula:

Poor company culture = unhappy and less motivated employees = little to no drive toward innovation

According to Virgin Pulse’s The Business of Healthy Employees survey, 42 percent of survey respondents said a healthy workforce drives employee engagement. What is one way you can engage your employees in a fun, yet impactful way? Try hosting a company-wide summit.

Of course, the possibility of hosting a summit varies from company to company, given the resources and the number of employees.

At my company, we recently hosted our annual company summit, where we spent a full day connecting through, dare I say, an innovative challenge, where we tasked teams to create a short infomercial, showcasing the value of our product. Most of us are not professional actors nor screenwriters, which made this challenge comical, yet inspiring. We spent the second day on the beach working through team-building challenges that required us to embrace our core values and characteristics.

We pushed our own limits and were encouraged to get out of our comfort zones by trying something new. This summit gave my colleagues and me an opportunity to strengthen our own personal connections with one another while challenging our own capabilities to be creative and brainstorm new ideas in a collaborative setting.

From this experience, I realized that one way to drive innovation with a team is by working together to accomplish a common goal that you may not have been tasked with before.

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Innovative Idea #2: Challenge Creativity with New Events

While hosting a summit brings employees together and strengthens a company’s culture as a whole, the impact can go beyond your team. There are additional events you can host for your employees, as well as the larger public that can help them improve their skillset and motivate them to act.

One technology company demonstrating this idea is Adobe. It hosts a unique creative experience called, “Creative Jams.” This is an event series where local thought leaders share a behind-the-scenes peek into their processes and projects.

Also, at these events, teams compete in a tournament that puts their creative skills to the test using Adobe Creative Cloud. While this event acts as a great marketing opportunity for Adobe’s product, another key reward is, as a company, inspiring innovation to employees and the general public.

By showing thought leaders in the industry and creating an environment where there is an actual challenge to be innovative, Adobe not only reflects their own company values but is simultaneously creating a network of individuals who are strengthening their own creative capabilities.

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Innovative Idea #3: Use Internal Resources to Capture Ideas

Your employee pool is filled with many individuals who have ideas that are yet to be revealed. How are your employee’s reaching you when they have a new idea to share? Is it in meetings? Via e-mail?

One way to capture the many creative ideas out there in your company is by utilizing your internal resources to give employees multiple outlets to share their thoughts. Amazon demonstrates an example of this type of system, by utilizing a virtual idea box on its internal website, which is where Amazon prime was born stemming from a simple suggestion to offer free shipping.

Technology Executive, Professional Speaker, and Executive Coach, Jag Randhawa, also created a system called “The Bright Idea Box,” introducing a six-step formula for creating a bottom-up innovation program. This system reminds business that every employee is deemed responsible for making the company more successful – not just the high management and executives.

In connection to company culture, employees must feel comfortable being able to share their unique thoughts or creative ideas using internal resources that fit each of their personalities. If one of your employees is more introverted, they may prefer an offline conversation about an idea they have versus sharing this idea in a boardroom with fifteen other colleagues. Executives and managers are tasked with moving beyond a simple call-out for ideas and attempting to connect with employees more personally to really listen to what they have to say.

What’s next?

When thinking about how to motivate your employees to be more innovative, consider hosting an employee summit, challenging your teams and the public with unique events, or utilizing your internal resources to make sharing ideas simple and quick. Your team is ready. Let’s be innovative.

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