Managing Employees

How to Stimulate Innovation Within the Organization

Written by Samuel Muriithi for Gaebler Ventures

While there are a host of external support structures that can be used to kindle innovation within the organization, it is agreed that the best way forward should first be to develop the organizational capacity innovation from within first.

Stimulating innovation within the organization calls for the use of various strategies and tactics that are part of the managerial acumen.

Stimulating innovation within the organization calls for the use of various strategies and tactics that are part of the managerial acumen.
The use of the following strategies is advised as a means of stimulating innovation within the organization:
1.    The engagement of all the organization's departments and partners in product development – From the outset, management should make an effort to incorporate the input of everyone who is linked to the organization when it comes to new product innovation and development. This means that the various departments including purchasing, sales, finance, manufacturing, marketing, design and operations, where applicable, should be allowed to contribute ideas and suggestions. The same applies to external partners including the suppliers, distributors and customers. Only then can a well-rounded product or service be realized.
2.    Promote pilots and prototypes – Rather than filing an increasing volume of new product or service proposals, management will stimulate innovation better by encouraging the submission of actual pilots and prototypes. These can then be tested for suitability in trial sites which may not even be in close proximity with the business. The culture of piloting should be fostered.
3.    Encourage existent product enhancement – Another way of stimulating innovation is really making the best of what is already successful in the market, from other organizations, by adding uniqueness through enhancement and adaptation. This strategy calls for the use of more market intelligence on what both competitors and non-competitors have to offer with an aim of going one better than them.
4.    Make optimal use of word-of-mouth – Once you have a successful product or service it is apt to get respected persons to use it and their fine perceptions of the same are sure to trigger purchases from the wider market. The onslaught of competitors in such cases is imminent but what this will actually achieve will be a marked decrease in the product/service lifecycle. Management should take these cues to herald the need for sustained innovation efforts.
These strategies will certainly be of help in stimulating innovation within the organization but they must be supported by a couple of management tactics as follows:
1.    Support for committed contributors – The manager should play a proactive role in spurring innovation by nurturing, protecting and facilitating those in the organization who are passionate about new ideas. With time it is most likely that the entire organization will be motivated to participate in innovative endeavors.
2.    Showing support for constant innovation – The manager should be at the fore when it comes to stimulating innovation. Continually finding ways to symbolize innovativeness daily in the work environment will surely rub the staffs in the right way. Their consequent efforts, whether direct or supportive, should be recognized to encourage further future contributions.
3.    Support for past failures – One of the surest ways of nurturing and stimulating innovation is by supporting failed efforts and learning from past mistakes, all with an aim of achieving constructive progress. This calls for an entrepreneurial management that is keen to remove any obstacles blocking the quest for sustained innovation.
4.    Innovation should be measured – Quantifiable innovation targets should be set and what has been achieved measured

Samuel Muriithi is a business owner in Nairobi, Kenya. He has extensive international business experience in the United States and India.

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