Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Build a Culture of Innovation at Work

Innovation is a skill, not luck, or something just in Silicon Valley – it’s something you build on –whether it’s a product, or the economy.

So, what can we do today to become better innovators? The steps below transform the idea of innovation into something tangible. According to a recent article on, if repeated enough, the steps culminate in a habit of innovation.

Pick one innovation project. Experiments drive innovation. Experiments are tangible, small tweaks to concrete ideas, projects, or products. This first step will feel inconsequential. Eventually, though, the process of innovation becomes ingrained as a way of thinking, changing how we see everything in an organization. The second step below helps explain how that way of thinking becomes habitual.

Experiment. We can ensure fast learning by aiming for half-baked ideas — 50 percent solutions — as opposed to fully polished products. It means stopping halfway to get feedback, then starting again. A series of 50 percent solutions produces a better result in the long run. The quicker the loop the more innovative the process.

Rearrange the office. The rapid experimentation of the previous step, in practice, means regularly sharing ideas with each other. The physical layout of the office — the location of desks and common areas — should force run-ins throughout the work day; coffee break discussions should be more norm than exception. The same idea of ease of communication should apply electronically as well.

The bottom line is, innovation doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Innovation is a simple thing: the skill of rapid experimentation to solve a problem. And, we can get better at it. 

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