With a preference for the status quo and fear of the unknown, driving sustainable change is never easy. However, change gives rise to innovation, and innovation is the impetus for impact. Taking it a step back, how can individuals, leaders, and organizations embrace an innovator’s mindset? During a recent panel at the SPARC National Conference, GenHERation® sat down with industry experts from Airbnb, Google, Squarespace, and Getty Images who shared the steps you should take to put innovation into action.
1) Don’t Feel the Need to Completely Reinvent the Wheel
Innovation is all about how you capture and implement ideas. It already exists around us. Take conferences for example. They give us access to ideas and resources. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be innovative. The solutions are there, but the challenge is how we capture those ideas and how we are receptive to those ideas. If a customer says, “I wish you had that,” be open to it. A good way to breed innovation is to a host a “Discovery” session. A “Discovery” session can be as simple as ordering pizza and bringing people into a room to share their ideas.
2) Embrace Risk in a Productive Way
Taking risks is really important if you want to implement change. Try having a positive association with uncertainty. While it’s easier to embrace this mindset as an individual, little innovation results from solo actors. If you want to implement a new software system to improve a process, it’s likely you have to get buy-in from others. How do you get buy-in from those fearing who are usually risk averse? “You meet them where they are and resonate with how they are coming at the situation,” says Allie Hastings, Airbnb Senior Product Counsel. Then, be completely transparent with the risk you are taking, and take these people on every part of the journey with you. They won’t always agree with you, but they will know where you are coming from.
3) Prototype Your New Ideas
No one wants to purchase a new car without taking it for a test drive. The same is true when bringing a new product or service to market. According to Getty Images Senior Director of Culture & Development, Marie Potter, “A good way to show proof of concept and generate buy-in is through design thinking—a strategic development process. If you have an idea for a new product, do the research, come up with a problem statement, throw out ideas, test your selected solution, and ideate.” Hosting a small adaptable pilot program with 10 costumers is less risky than spending $1 million on an idea that may or may not be successful.
4) Hire and Retain Exceptional Talent
Innovation cannot exist within an organization unless it has curious, creative, and passionate team members. How can you get this great talent in the door? One of the greatest sources of influence in attracting talent is the use of stories. Stories about what it’s like to work at the organization. These stories give people an inside scoop of what it’s like to be on the inside as a member of the team. It gives a sense of value in action and how these values manifest in the real world. Once employees are in the door, retaining them is all about “what’s in it for me?” How will working at your organization help them achieve their professional goals and quench their curiosity? A good way to do this is by creating a psychologically safe space. Let employees come to the table with ideas and make room for fun! You will get more from people when you focus on possibility, not perfection.
5) Measure the Change
It’s great to innovate, but you shouldn’t innovate just for the sake of it. Innovate to bring about effective and meaningful change. To determine whether a new idea, product, or service should stay, focus on measurement and evaluation. To measure innovation, ask, “What have we learned?” No matter the outcome, you are better because you learned something. Google People Consultant Manager, Helynn Nelson, advises you “be candid, use surveys, analyze metrics, and talk about both mistakes and successes.” Another great question to ask when measuring innovation is, “How did this change individuals’ behavior?” Do consumers pay differently? Do more people click on your website? Behavioral change indicates influence, and having influence allows you to be a competitive player in your industry.