The phrase “culture of innovation” is everywhere. It’s everywhere you read these days on how to create the ideal work environment. It probably even has hashtags on Twitter. Yet, with more companies than ever trying to build a “culture of innovation” into their established businesses, no one really knows how to create it.
But let’s get two things straight: if your staff isn’t interesting, and they find your company boring, they are boring. If people are just sitting around the office to collect their check, and they aren’t interested in coming up with awesome ways to improve daily operations, they’re just taking up space.
You can’t inject “culture” into an environment where everyone isn’t excited to be there. No amount of cool bean bag chairs or big-screen TVs around your office space will immediately empower your staff to be innovative or fix systemic and pre-existing workplace issues.
So, let’s save some time. Before you start chanting a new mantra at your company town hall meetings, understand three things that can help you create “culture” quickly and successfully.
Step 1 –Cultivate Communication
Create an environment where you can freely communicate and withstand and tolerate any and all failures.
If you can’t tolerate or understand failure, you won’t be innovative. Millions of products have failed thousands of times before they were perfect in the marketplace.
Step 2 – Build the Process
Create a process for innovation. If someone has an idea, where do they go? Who do they talk to? Someone has to own that process, and they must understand the ins-and-outs of your entire business to make effective decisions.
Step 3 –Tolerate New Ideas
Founders and your leadership team have to embrace and tolerate all ideas. Understand that every idea is not going to have an immediate return on investment, and that shouldn’t be held against anyone.
Build these steps into your core values from day one. It can’t just be you, the founder, or one person. Cultures are built by groups over time, and this creates a Utopian environment for those who value creativity.
Remember, when people are not afraid of small failures that may bear no value, over time they began to move forward to something that will provide long-term value. Each small failure will be a notch toward the perfect product or service you desire. Understanding that is key.
If you create this environment from day one, you will inherently create an environment where people feel they are doing the right thing, despite whether it fails or not. Make a conscious choice for innovation so you don’t have to worry about how to inject innovation 20 years later.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dana Sellers is a business development consultant and the founder of Gray Capital Solutions, a full-service consulting firm that focuses on the growth and development of startups and small businesses. Connect with @graycapsolns on Twitter.