Struggling to implement innovation across your workforce? You’re not alone. You are not the first CEO to encounter this obstacle, and you definitely won’t be the last!
The fact is that people don’t like change. And it’s easy to see why. According to reports, employees dealing with workplace change experience more stress and lower job satisfaction, so you can’t really blame your people for not getting excited about all the new changes you’re planning to bring in (even if they do benefit the business).
Despite your employees’ reluctance to embrace new ways of working, introducing change is hugely essential for successfully implementing your innovation strategy in the workforce.
Why? Because without mixing things up, you’re going to find it pretty tricky - or even impossible - to generate new ideas that take your business to the next level.
Organisations often get stuck in a certain way of thinking because employees quickly become accustomed to what’s expected of them in the workplace. They know that working in *this* way means they can complete their tasks efficiently, and they know that working in *that* way reduces risk and helps to drive the best results. It’s only natural that they’re keen to work using tried-and-tested, well established methods.
But innovation is different. With innovation, we’re not trying to replicate the same day-to-day results that we usually do. We’re trying to do something different. And that means employees must be open to adopting an innovative mindset and working in new, different, and unusual ways.
The problem is that employees don’t want to change. And often, they’ll work in a different way simply because you’ve asked them to; not because they support the innovation process. This is a problem, because you can't carry innovation alone; you need cooperation. If your people don’t understand the importance of innovation, you won’t get results. You will that you have insufficient capacity to innovate.
Knowing how to implement innovation in the workforce means knowing what the core areas are holding employees back from stepping out of their comfort zone.
While every employee will obviously have their own obstacles, there are three key business systems that are largely responsible for stopping workers from moving forward:
Budgets are often allocated to departments such as marketing, production, sales, and so on, but there usually isn’t a pool of funds specifically for innovation. And so it’s difficult for employees to get out of this mindset of ‘we don’t have the resources for that’. It’s important to align innovation ideas with return on investment, helping to spark more accurate forecasting that clearly outlines what resources are free to spend.
While your decision makers will typically stay the same during your innovation efforts, you must be willing to change the system that says only their opinions matter. Successful innovation comes from collaboration - from bouncing ideas off each other and embracing new perspectives - so it’s vital to include everyone. You don’t need to give decision making power to everyone, but decision makers must be open-minded and know how to measure innovation in a company.
In many organisations, innovation is seen as a specific task that specific people take responsibility for. We need to change this. Innovation shouldn’t be something that’s assigned; it should be something that’s built into the company culture - something that is built into every job description - that gives everyone responsibility for considering the future of the company. People are motivated to change when they are involved.
Is it easy to change these systems? Absolutely not! Especially in larger organisations. Your people are used to the systems you already have in place, and there’s already so much process and procedure involved in these systems that it’s hard to replace them.
But not only do you need to change them to implement innovation in the workplace, but you need to change them quickly. With the market evolving rapidly, speed of change is important. If you’re not quick off the mark, you could find the business begins to stagnate because innovations can’t be developed, and you may miss out on certain ideas that could end up being crucial to the organisation’s long term success.
During those early days of innovation when you’re striving to change these three systems, a little extra brain power is critical. You need someone that doesn’t have a pre-existing relationship with how things used to be done within the business, and instead only sees how things need to be done in order to produce the right results.
That’s why an increasing number of businesses today are turning to external solutions at this stage in the innovation roadmap, working with people who can really get into these systems, do what’s needed without feeling restricted by history and tradition, and change them with a level of confidence that motivates your employees to adapt.