Blog & Company News

Dec 6, 2011

How to Create an Innovative Company in Tough Economic Times

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Innovation"][/caption] In a lean economy, it can be a challenge to grow your company. Innovation and a strong business strategy become more important than ever to identify new ways to reach consumers as well as encourage employee productivity. Often, this means conventional or traditional strategies and wisdom must be tweaked. Building a Qualified, Successful Team of Employees In a time of slow economic growth, you may not have the desire or the funds to hire many employees. Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, recently told Bloomberg Businessweek1 that the high unemployment rate may be more affected by the reluctance of employers to bring in new workers than by payroll reductions. In most cases, the traditional considerations when evaluating a potential candidate include qualifications and the ability of the candidate to “work well” with the current team of employees. But Stephen Shapiro, author of “Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition,” told CNNMoney2 that hiring people who “don’t fit the existing mold”—or even people you don’t like—can result in a better team with fresher ideas. Shapiro believes that teams of individuals who have varying backgrounds, personalities, standards, and goals are teams that are more likely to engage in healthy conversations and debates. This can foster new ideas on everything from saving money to streamlining processes in the company to generating marketing ideas. Shapiro's belief in the importance of diversity is corroborated by a 2011 Forbes Insights study,3 which found that “a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation.” Motivating Employees Once you have a strong team of employees in place, it’s crucial to properly motivate them. According to an excerpt from the book, “How Full Is Your Bucket,”4 The concepts of ‘recognition’ and ‘praise’ … are two critical components for creating positive emotions in organizations.” Also, ask your employees to submit ideas for improving your business. This practice can pay off big time, especially when you make it easy for all employees to contribute innovative suggestions. An October 2011 article in The Wall Street Journal4 showcased some examples of companies that effectively generated employee input. For more information, visit: 1. “Fed’s Lockhart Says Slow Hiring May Be at Root of Unemployment” 2. “Why Your Company (Probably) Can’t Innovate” 3. “Global Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce” 4. “The Power of Praise and Recognition” 5. “For Bright Ideas, Ask the Staff” 6. “How to Create a Culture of Innovation