5 Effective Tips for Fostering Workplace Innovation

Workplace Innovation is the talk on everybody’s lips. As the competition grows internationally, more and more companies are trying to outperform their rivals, and being innovative is their weapon of choice.

Workplace Innovation is the talk on everybody’s lips. As the competition grows internationally, more and more companies are trying to outperform their rivals, and being innovative is their weapon of choice. Truth is, whether you’re up for it or not, change is going to happen. And if you’re not prepared for it, you will get left behind, destined to repeat the sad fate of Blockbuster (and no one wants that, right?)

The thing is, innovation can feel elusive, vague even. How can you implement a concept that has become yet another catchphrase thrown around by startups in Silicon Valley (disruption!)? How can you shake off legacy, stir up stiff company culture, battle time and money constraints – all without having to overhaul your entire organization?

At Workshopper, we are firm believers that ANY company, regardless of how established/bureaucratic/old-fashioned [insert excuse here] can foster workplace innovation in a meaningful way. So today we’re sharing the five surefire tips on how to innovate your workplace, which we’ve seen at work first-hand. Try them out and we guarantee that they will help you kickstart a culture of innovation at your organization. We’re sure you will see real  results in no time. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right in! 

Introduce concepts gradually and rename them to fit your company

Don’t scare off your team by storming into the room blurting out trendy catchphrases. 

When implementing a new strategy into a company that is established, you want to start slowly to avoid alarming anyone. Change can be really hard for people - especially if they’ve been working the same way for years. Going all in with a new innovation initiative will most likely just create resistance.  And that’s completely OK! Instead of feeling discouraged by this, use it to your advantage. Mention that you’ll  be trying out a new style of meeting that’s a little more structured.  Ease your team into this new way of working, by letting them experience the value of innovation first-hand. This will get you internal buy-in and pave the way for bigger initiatives.

Pro tip: Learn from the companies who are already championing innovative ways of working! What worked for them can work for you as well, and it’s a nice way to get fresh ideas. For starters, check out how Zurich Insurance masters corporate innovation.

Start small 

“All or nothing” is definitely NOT the motto for starting a culture of innovation in a company. Let’s face it, getting a sign off for a full blown innovation team right off the bat is going to be hard (very hard). Your best bet is to start small and frugal. Run a smaller initiative first and make sure to follow through with the learnings and their implementation.

Learn how to design your own custom workshops

Pro tip: starting small is probably a good idea even if your organization is fully onboard with your innovation initiatives. Smaller scale means less financial risk, more room for experimentation, and easier team management. Once you get  more familiar with the methods and how to utilise them you can ramp up and reap the benefits on a big scale. 

Start running workshops!

Workshops are an essential tool for innovation. They let you get a lot of work done in short periods of time AND make your team happier. Win-win! There is a workshop for every type of problem - big, small, creative or not. Many companies are catching on to the transformative power workshops have, and for good reason! Workshops let you cut out the busy work, get an immense amount of work done in a very short period of time and increase the value of collaborative working by getting everyone on the same page. Try out a workshop with your team and get ready to be blown away by increased levels of productivity and alignment! We recommend starting with something easy, like our Lightning Decision Jam (or LDJ as we like to call it) and gradually expanding into bigger workshops like our Design Sprint

Discover how Wayfair leverages the power of workshops, and why AJ&Smart went all in on them too!

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Don’t become obsessed with following the methodology to a T. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do your best work, perfectionism can be a real progress killer! Instead of fixating on the details, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I so stuck on this because it matters or because I would like to procrastinate?

If you need to tweak the method to fit your team or run it in beta-mode first then by all means do! After all, innovation should enable your productivity and creativity, not make you a machine.

Celebrate every step and then celebrate again at the end (you know, one for good measure)

You’re trying something new and it’s getting everyone out of their comfort zone - that is definitely worth celebrating. Positive reinforcement can really help make a team feel united and encourage risk taking. Most offices have a tendency to do a lot of work and then not attribute the successes to the right people. Achieving goals is big and everyone deserves a mention. So create milestones along your journey that you can celebrate! 

Ran your first workshop? Celebrate! 

Presented a new methodology to the team? Celebrate! 

Acknowledging the progress will give you the motivation to keep the momentum going.

Take time to zoom out and go through all the things you have learned as a team, the direction you’re planning on going in now and let everyone know that you’re happy with their hard work. This really helps add closure and leaves everyone feeling positive and willing to try this way of working again. 

BONUS TIP: Start before you’re ready!

The fastest, most effective way to learn is by rolling up your sleeves and actually doing it! So just run that first workshop, assemble the first taskforce and give it a go. The learnings you’ll get out of it will serve as signposts for your journey and will inspire your team to experiment further.

We’ll be there all along the way to support you with the most up-to-date info about tried-and-tested workshop formats, helpful articles and guides and interviews with well-known and respected Workshoppers.