Innovation is a hot topic for businesses. Everyone wants it, but how do you know if you have it? In Brandon Hall Group’s recent survey on Relationship Centered Learning, participants were asked to describe their company’s top two business priorities, and Improving Innovation one of the top picks . How do you know if you are encouraging innovation in your organization? Below are some ideas of ways companies can encourage innovation.

  1. Encourage Experimentation. Companies that make experimentation a priority will see results from those experiments. It’s important to give people time to be innovative. One example of a company for which innovation time is part of their DNA is 3M which expects every employee to use 15% of their time to be creative and explore new ideas. If your employees spend all of their time in meetings or on phone calls, they don’t have time to actually work on projects and be creative. Encourage experimentation, and build time into the day to allow ideas to surface.
  2. Recognize innovation. Sometimes this is as simple as acknowledging a contribution, other organizations offer bonuses or prizes for innovative ideas. If your company prizes innovation, then make sure your employees know that innovation is valued.
  3. Reward Failure. One reason employees don’t express their ideas is that they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to be a failure if something doesn’t work out. Tolerate mistakes and expect failure, and reward lessons learned. Ideas don’t always work the first time. Thomas Edison, one of American’s greatest inventors, once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.” You’ll never find the ways things do work without finding the ways that won’t work first.
  4. Create Connections. How many times have you heard someone say that they had a great idea and presented it to someone higher up in an organization and it went nowhere? Companies need outlets for employees to voice their ideas. Some companies have suggestion boxes, others have formal processes to submit ideas, but what’s important is to create pathways for ideas to become reality within organizations.
  5. Work in Teams. Create innovation teams to source new ideas. Look for people who are passionate about creating something new and different and allow them to work together to source new ideas and processes.

Once you have these new ideas your company needs to use them. Put your innovative ideas into practice. If you tell people to be innovative encourage the process and allow the results to shine. The worst thing you can do is encourage ideas and not implement them.

These are great ideas for how to expand innovation in an organization, but how do you fit in to this innovation process? Take this quick quiz on innovation and instead of evaluating your own innovative abilities, because everyone can be innovative; it looks at the type of innovator you are in your organization.

Once you take this survey and learn more about your own innovation type, learn more about  fostering innovation in your organization by joining Brandon Hall Group’s David Wentworh, and Laurie Burruss, Senior Director of Education at for a webinar discussing Innovation in the Learning Landscape. They will explore teaching and learning strategies that foster innovation and discuss practical ways that businesspeople and lifelong learners incorporate innovation into their work.

To learn more about innovation download this complimentary case study about an organization looking to create a culture of innovation that would encourage employees at all levels to think more creatively and be actively engaged in developing new products and services.

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