How do We Nurture Innovators?

More and more companies are looking to understand and identify innovation talent. Why? Because if companies understand how to encourage original thought and reward innovation efforts, they’re more likely to stay relevant and at the top of their game. Not to mention that they’re far more likely to attract and retain top talent that is interested in working for a company that is forward-thinking and rewards creative effort.

But how do you identify innovators and what sorts of best practices help encourage original thought? Here are just a few tips:

Support Alternative Viewpoints:

It can be difficult to speak truth to power: “However you want to reward, tolerate or punish budding intrapreneurs, the imperative is to encourage the behaviors which you want to see.” Suggesting new ideas is inherently risky, what can you do to make it more comfortable for people with alternative viewpoints? How about offering forums for sharing new ideas transparently or rewarding people who speak up even if their ideas aren’t adopted? And most importantly, find ways to open up and reconsider what you think you already know.

Encourage Diversity:

New research indicates that nurturing a diverse workforce for innovation drives market growth. Employees at companies with diversity are 45% more likely to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market. This builds in tons of new viewpoints and chances for new connections.

Build in Creative Efforts:

In Adam Grant’s Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World, he reports that individuals are more likely to recognize good ideas if they’ve been creative themselves. Helping build in time for creativity and free association in the workplace is not only going to encourage creative thinking but increases the chances of a good reception for great new ideas.

Teach Employees How to Pitch:

Sometimes a good idea needs the help of a good presentation. There are lots of ways to make even the most outlandish ideas seem palatable and possible but Grant’s book also outlines ways to make new ideas seem more familiar and point out their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

If you’d like to learn more about original thinkers and how you can encourage them, download this infographic.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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