Wednesday, 25 August 2021 13:03

Establishing a Culture of Innovation

Oftentimes, new business innovations, ideas, etc. fall on the business owner's or leader's shoulders as they are tasked with generating a solution to organizational challenges. However, those individuals typically already have a lot on their plate, and finding time to generate inventive ideas can be difficult. CultureofInnovation

At American Lumber, we make every effort to open our minds to new ideas, where ever they may originate. Whether it be a suggestion for a new hardwood lumber sort that could potentially increase a customer's yields, or perhaps finding a better way kiln dry lumber to create more valuable hardwood lumber product. Whatever it may be, creative thinking and the drive to pursue better ideas is key to getting ahead and you never know where the next great idea is going to come from!

If you have been thinking of fostering a culture of innovation at your organization and don't know where to start, here are six tips we found valuable in our pursuit of that goal:

Be clear on what “innovation” means. If you want to generate change within an organization everyone needs to understand exactly what you mean. As you relay to your team that fresh ideas about processes, product upgrades, etc., are encouraged, be clear as much as possible about the types of feedback you want to get. Make note of areas or functions where you’d like to see the most innovation and guide the discussion in those directions.

Embrace a “no bad ideas” policy. Often employees are cautious about offering ideas about what can possibly be improved on within an organization. Their worry is that their submissions might appear too costly or possibly that their supervisor might not approve of their idea or even worry that the suggestion could reflect badly on them.

To avoid these types of thinking among team members, leadership must emphasize that all ideas are welcome and that there are no repercussions to an idea brought forward. Positive encouragement is necessary to maintain an innovative attitude.

Examine “what if?” scenarios. Sometimes biggest ideas come when you or your team ask, “What if we did this a different way?” This approach is commonly seen at startups or other up-and-coming businesses. By asking a simple, “What if?” question, you can guide the company toward innovations with the greatest potential for success.

Allow employees to pursue big projects.  Many businesses encounter some sort of internal operational or customer service issue that doesn’t have an easy solution. 

In your efforts to promote a culture of innovation, ask employees to work together to find a solution for that specific problem or issue. Support them in their efforts to meet, brainstorm, and collaborate on potential solutions and see what they come up with. You might be surprised!

Don’t condemn failure. Sometimes ideas from within the organization just don’t work. But you don’t know if you never try. If you aren’t failing, chances are you aren’t innovating.

Any idea worth considering has the potential to fail. But in your quest to foster a culture of innovation, failure shouldn’t be punished. Instead, learn from the mistakes of an unsuccessful initiative and use that knowledge towards the next big idea that comes along.

Recognize successes. Reward and recognition are powerful incentives for team members. As employees offer suggestions, take time to recognize the most inventive and effective suggestions. Recognition could be something as simple as a highlight of their contribution through company emails,  team meetings etc. Incentive programs are also a great idea to help encourage the generation of more groundbreaking ideas.

“Change” and “innovation” are terms that get tossed around a lot. But if you’re really interested in creating change, the adoption of some of these tips can get your employees more actively involved development and implementation of change and innovation.

Whether it is with our sawmill teams, our skilled foresters, or our hardwood lumber traders, employees are a businesses’ most valuable resource. Ask your employees what they think the next time a challenge faces your organization. You may be surprised by what they come up with.

American Lumber
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Last modified on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 16:22

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