Innovation matters. It drives society forward, and we all use the resulting technologies every single day. Why, then is it so challenging to find truly innovative people?
I propose that the problem is not with people. I have worked with many teams at a variety of businesses, and most people are innovative. we are creatures of discovery, and most of us love learning about new topics and creating things the world has never seen before. The problem is with business models that stifle innovation.
It can happen to your business without you realizing it. Many fall victim to this pattern because it is insidious, happening in the background while you prioritize increasing profit margins by reducing costs. But should reducing costs really be our primary focus?
Innovation Is Expensive
In business, we should always strive for efficiency, this is true. Innovation, however, is not cheap. By this logic, innovation should take a backseat to safe, proven ideas and tactics. We should favor the existing, traditional teams and methods that have served us well in the past.
This is a tempting fantasy. But without innovation, we would have never discovered those proven ideas in the first place. We risk stagnation or being left behind in a world that continues to evolve without us. You must commit to a pro-innovation stance for your business, and that means building and managing a modern, adaptive branch of your team.
Nurturing Innovative Thought
It is possible, albeit difficult, to build an innovation team without hiring a single person. Perhaps you already have the talent you need, and it is just a matter of adjusting your internal framework to encourage innovative thought. Even if you do end up hiring additional employees, such efforts can help embed an innovative culture across your organization to encourage widespread, disciplined creativity.
The best way to promote innovative thought is to ensure your employees feel safe to express their ideas. If new ideas are always shut down because “that would cost too much” or “that isn’t our wheelhouse,” employees will stop bringing them forward. The animation studio Pixar started as such an idea; two employees developed a revolutionary graphics software, but it was initially rejected. They moved on and made billions.
Don’t be the leader who passed on Pixar. Nurture open discussion to find innovation at home, then look outside to fill in the gaps. And, once your team is built, develop structure and strategy to ensure it will thrive.
Managing Your Innovation Team
Modern innovation teams need structure to operate effectively. Otherwise, a dream team will do only that: dream. They will come up with grand new ideas all day long, but without plans and processes, executing on those ideas will be next to impossible.
The first step is empowering the team to work how they want to work. Let them select, discuss and settle on their own brainstorming tools, work platforms, and team hierarchy, and make sure there is buy-in from every member. Second, show them they have support by allocating the resources they need to work effectively.
Finally, remember to incentivize success rather than punishing failure. When it comes to innovation teams, each failure really is just a stepping stone to the next victory. Make sure your team knows it, and that they aren’t afraid to fail.
Amzur has built a number of successful innovation teams, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. I am happy to discuss the finer points of making your business a more efficient innovation engine.
Bala Nemani is the founding partner and CEO of Amzur Technologies. An entrepreneurial spirit, Nemani is an IT solutions and staffing executive with a passion for candidate suitability. His quest to rapidly hire the best technical talent for team members at Amzur and his client’s teams led to the creation of Amzur Talent. Nemani has a passion to deliver qualified, cost-effective, and scalable IT human resources for businesses with tight schedules. Prior to founding Amzur Technologies, he founded Mango Technologies as well as the Solarsa International—a renewable energy firm that provided clients with onsite solar energy systems.