6 Tips on Building a Culture of Innovation

Where do new, innovative ideas for business come from? Often, it falls to the business owner or leader to generate a fresh approach or come up with a new solution to pressing organizational challenges. But those individuals already have a lot on their hands, and finding time to generate creative ideas is a luxury they can’t always afford.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we strive to be open to new ideas whereever they may come from. Whether it be the suggestion for a new way to sort a hardwood lumber species that helps a customer increase their yields, a better way to kiln dry lumber to create move valuable products, whatever it may be, thinking creatively and looking for better new ideas is important. You never know where the next great innovation is going to come from! DSC7983 Large

Here are six tips to help foster a culture of innovation in your business:

  1. Clarify what “innovation” means.

If you want to generate change within the organization, it’s important that everyone understands what you mean. As you spread the word that fresh ideas about processes, product upgrades, etc., are welcome, clarify as much as possible the types of feedback you want to get.

Are you looking for change that might result in an upheaval of accepted internal operations? Or do you prefer more moderate, incremental change ideas? Specify areas or functions where you’d like to see the most innovation and guide the discussion in those directions.

  1. Encourage a “no bad ideas” mindset. 

Sometimes employees are cautious about volunteering ideas about what can be changed within the organization. They are concerned that their submissions might seem too costly or that their supervisor might disapprove or feel that the suggestion reflects badly on them.

It’s up to leadership to emphasize that all suggestions for change are welcome, and that there are no repercussions—only encouragement to maintain an innovative attitude.

  1. Explore “what if?” scenarios. 

Sometimes the most dramatic ideas for change come when you or your team ask, “What if we did things another way?” This approach is often employed by startups or other newly established companies.

As Innovation Enterprise says, “Small companies can out-innovate big ones not because of what they do, but because of how they think.” By asking a simple, “What if?” question, you can guide the company “toward innovations with the biggest potential” for success.

  1. Support attempts by employees to take on big projects.  

Often, businesses encounter some internal operational problem or customer service issue that doesn’t yield an easy solution. 

In your efforts to promote a culture of innovation, ask employees to volunteer to work together as a team that addresses that specific problem or issue. Support them in their efforts to meet, brainstorm, and collaborate on one or more potential solutions and see what happens next! 

  1. Don’t condemn or punish failure.

At Baillie one of our core company values is to encourage risk taking. Some ideas from within the organization just aren’t going to work, but you don’t know if you never try. “If you’re never failing, chances are you’re not innovating much,” notes TalentCulture, adding that “the reality [is] that there’s almost always a degree of uncertainty.”

Any idea worth considering carries with it the potential to fall short of the desired goal. But in a genuine culture of innovation, failure isn’t punished. Instead, people hope to learn from mistakes or an unsuccessful initiative and leverage that new knowledge towards the next idea for large-scale change.

  1. Recognize and celebrate the fruits of innovative thinking.

Recognition and reward are powerful incentives to contribute to a culture of innovation. As employees contribute suggestions, take time to publicly recognize the most inventive and effective suggestions. Highlight these contributions through company emails, team meetings and incentive programs for the most groundbreaking ideas.

“Change” and “innovation” are terms that get tossed around, but if you’re really interested in promoting change, adopt some of these tips and get your employees more actively involved in the change process. Whether it is with our sawmill teams, our kiln drying departments, or our hardwood lumber traders, employees are a businesses’ most valuable resource. Tap into that resource, you’ll likely be surprised by what your team members come up with.

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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