Category Archives: Employee Recognition

7 Rules for Improving Innovation: #6 Culture

Improving Innovation: Company Culture.

An interesting paradox exists:  Most companies fear change.  Yet, they have to resist fear and take serious risks in order to innovate.  How do you change that culture of fear that pervades most companies?

Change can be a tremendous opportunity, but there are no guarantees – it can also backfire and cause terrible consequences like profit loss, wasted time and resources, public humiliation, and other dismal failures.  On the other hand, fear itself also causes companies to pay out lots of money for quick fixes to problems they should be solving permanently and internally.

So, how can you be sure you’re doing the right thing?  Start by basing  your innovations on sound principles, rather than on the latest trends, untested methodologies, and spaced-out ideas from self-dubbed “thought leaders.”

One thing is bankable – if you want to beat the competition and own your respective market space, your company will not accomplish this if they operate on a culture of fear.  Don’t let the anxiety of ‘being different’ hold you back from delivering new products and ideas.  Just test the waters properly first and always follow a sane, proven methodology each and every time.

Culturally speaking, how do you start encouraging innovation, rather than stifling it?   Allow your employees to have some time to work on their own projects and improvements, and give them credit for doing so.   When it comes to moving ideas and programs through development,  eliminate as much of the red tape as possible.  Meetings, talks, seminars, studies, reports, and ‘documentation-for-the-sake-of-documentation’ – all of these slow people down.

You can fast-track certain projects with a ‘Just Do It’ policy – that is, allowing certain ideas to circumvent the normal process if they come with a strong enough business case and fast-to-prove ROI.   Keep in mind that budgeting a small amount of money for these quick-turn projects is crucial.  Putting tools in place to streamline certain parts of the process is very important, but make sure these are planned and implemented with strong processes behind them.

Maybe most importantly, you’ll need to communicate from the top down and let everyone know that innovation will be the priority from now on.  Get visionary leaders in place that know how to look at the larger picture and leverage the feedback.

Minimize the fear and get your culture right and you’ll see the wheels of innovation start rolling.


7 Rules for Improving Innovation: #4 Recognition


Employees need to be recognized for their efforts, plain and simple.  This is especially true as you’re trying to drive innovation forward at your company.  If you’re not doing this already, you need to start a regular process for recognizing (better yet, rewarding) workers in your company.  If the whole innovation process is new to your organization, or your current process is being updated or changed, then you’re  most likely asking employees to perform new tasks that are not already part of their jobs.  If this is the case, there must be some understanding on their part that there’s ”something in it for them.”

One way to do this, of course, is to recognize them or give out awards in some sort of public forum.  You can pick out these “superstars” by creating a value system that ties into the benefit (aka: cost savings, revenue, ROI, or some other financial metric) of implemented ideas that sprang from the employee well.  If you’re doing innovation right, then you’re already benchmarking this, of course, too!

Many companies use a points-based system to track particular activities within the innovation process:  “Submitting an idea,” “Management approves an idea,” or “idea gets implemented” are all good events to start tracking.  Still other companies choose to simply share a monetary award based on the benefits received from a good idea. 

It’s all about creating an incentive for employees to share ideas and follow through on the resulting new projects.  Without that incentive, there is little motivation to strive beyond the daily expectations of their typical job function.

Another fairly simple suggestion you can put into play is to create a program for employees to write articles, knowledge base entries, contribute to publications, and make a name for themselves in their discipline.  Even if these pieces are only used internally, the sharing of expertise is a very powerful way to become recognized for your knowledge and contributions to the company.   Supporting employees in this way is a sure-fire method for getting them to solve problems and share ideas that they’ve seen work in different environments.  All of this drives innovation to it’s peak.