By Chris Ogden, CEO of RubiBlue
An Innovation Mindset
What defines an innovation mindset? Is it the leader sitting in a boardroom coming up with ideas? Sure. But today an innovation mindset is less defined by a single individual than by the culture of the organisation and how every person is an inherent part of the company’s success. Leaders need to remain creatively inventive in their roles, but equally they need to embed this mindset into every part of the organisation. This not only engages employees and makes them feel that their inputs and creativity are invaluable, but ensures long-term sustainable business growth.
Innovation is, ultimately, the lifeblood of the organisation. This is particularly true of the small to medium enterprise (SME). Smaller companies have to punch higher and hit harder to get the right attention, and this demands that their solutions, services and creativity are heads and shoulders above the noise. Without innovation sitting at the core of the company, the SME runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, or losing momentum. This is not ideal at the best times, even less so today when markets are fiercely competitive and demanding.
To create an innovation mindset, you need to create an innovative business culture. This means inspiring people to always look at ways to improve things, create new ideas, and optimise existing processes. While leadership plays a pivotal role here, it’s primarily in ensuring that everyone gets the opportunity to play their own roles in this space. In giving people what they need to really dig in and explore how they can creatively contribute to the business. You can’t dictate innovation from the top. Instead, it needs to be a way of thinking and behaving that’s generated internally across departments and silos.
When approaching innovation this way, buy-in isn’t always required. People will respond to the idea that they can contribute to the business in meaningful ways, and that they are respected parts of the company and its culture. Leadership can stand up for innovation, and show by example, and once this gains momentum, innovative thinking will come from everywhere. Then it will be up to leadership to direct these innovations in line with the business strategy and objectives. And to recognise those that have taken this step, gone the extra mile.
Once people are seen as being innovative, others will follow. So curate this mindset, listen to all the ideas, don’t discount anything, and, above all, keep people motivated. If you create a stigma around the ideas that are adopted versus those that are not, you can demotivate the entire business, achieving the complete opposite result to what you intended. The best strategy is to welcome all ideas, and to carefully cultivate those that will take your business in the right direction. With this in mind, you can evolve your business and improve it every day, little by little. It’s not a quick ‘just add water’ process, innovative thinking is a slow burn but once it is embedded in your employee’s mindset, it will evolve on its own and deliver immeasurable value to the business.
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