Innovation seems to be a buzzword that just will not go away. But in reality, it’s a critical concept that all businesses – no matter the size – need to grasp in order to survive.

As industries and business landscapes continue to evolve in a rapid-fire pace, many organizations struggle to keep up. Hierarchies and lack of idea sharing leads to stagnant ideation. Every member of your team should be involved in innovation – it’s just a matter of building and maintaining a culture of idea sharing even through continued business growth. Luckily, large companies like Google and Apple prove that it is possible to continually push the envelope and lay the foundation for innovation. Whether you’re in a company of 5 or 5000, here are 3 actionable ways to keep the innovation energy alive!

  1. Develop an innovation strategy – What gets planned gets done. Most organizations have business goals that are deeply rooted in strategy, but many fail to plan for the intangibles, like innovation. Developing a strategy for innovation provides a clear direction and understanding when it comes to idea generation and progression. Take the time to plan for innovation and allow your organization to account for additional needed resources and systematically bring great ideas to life. As a leader, you need to make innovation a priority. Help your people understand how they play a role in ideation by making it a part of your organizations culture.
  2. Focus on internal and external forces – Businesses often struggle to find the right balance between using industry best practices and fringe ideas. Finding the middle ground is important to continual improvement. Leverage ideas from alternative industries and adjust new concepts to fit your company. Attending events like MIMA monthly events where business leaders share their expertise can be a great outlet to network about innovation. As important as it is to remain curious and explore external ideas, looking internally can also pay large dividends. Your organization’s people are its best resource. Remember to leverage that asset and create an environment where innovation can happen.
  3. Make idea sharing seamless – As organizations grow, communication becomes a challenge. And when communication falters, so does idea sharing. Be purposeful in allowing time and space for ideas to percolate. This can be as simple as a communal whiteboard or as complex as a system like BrightIdea Innovation Software. Providing opportunities for ideas brings innovation to life by celebrating, rewarding and prioritizing ideation. In Steven Johnson’s TED Talk, Where Good Ideas Come From, he argues great ideas aren’t created in one eureka moment of lone genius. Rather ideas take time to incubate and network to an innovation of value.  Create an idea network that works best for your organization.

Continued innovation is important. It’s not surprising that the same organizations that have created a culture of innovation continue to excel while others fail to adapt. As our worlds turn digital, this evolution becomes even more important for organizations and marketers alike. To learn more about the nature of innovation in our digital world, join us Wednesday, September 16 for our We Are All Digital Startups event or check back for full video and event recap.

Written by MIMA Committee Member Andrew Tewksbury