Continuous Innovation: Sustaining Your Corporate Innovation Program

Innovation is key, but contrary to what's become the norm in many businesses, it's not just a one-time task to check off your to-do list or a brainstorming session to squeeze into the last hour of the workday. For innovation to truly work, you must cultivate a culture of continuous growth.

Building a corporate innovation program that can deliver sustained results may seem daunting, but it needn’t be. Focus on the steps below to embrace innovation.

Don't put timeframes on innovation

Innovation simply doesn’t work when you try to shoehorn it into a set timeframe. Employees need the opportunity to work on their ideas as soon as they surface. Otherwise, the vision could be lost by the time that they find or make time. For instance, Atlassian has a quarterly ShipIt Day, where employees work on their passion projects for a day. This approach gives employees the freedom to work on their ideas without feeling the pressure of deadlines and be able to work on their ideas with a clear mindset.


Train employees to act like entrepreneurs

To foster a culture of innovation within a company, it's essential to train employees to think and act like entrepreneurs, thereby helping them to become "intrapreneurs". This involves going beyond simply hiring people who are more inclined to come up with new ideas, and instead, create an environment that encourages and rewards creative problem-solving by everyone. 

This can be achieved through tools like KICKBOX, which allows every employee to develop and collaborate on ideas. Additionally, a client-centric approach to business can help employees understand the importance of generating innovative solutions that address the needs of customers.

By shifting the focus from short-term profits to long-term growth and learning metrics, employees are more likely to adopt a growth mindset and take risks that can lead to breakthrough innovations. 

Overall, training employees to act like entrepreneurs requires a combination of tools, processes, and mindset shifts that create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.


Remove bureaucracy

Many innovators will stop innovating once they feel that their ideas are ignored. Bureaucracy can kill an employee’s enthusiasm as they need to impress multiple decision-makers and will likely face a long delay before the idea can progress. Bottom-up innovation has supported many companies like Swisscom, not least because it removes the barriers for innovators at junior levels, but by also establishing a sense of fairness through this process.

It is shown that 79% of employees who quit, do so due to a lack of appreciation. When you have a stable workforce, it’s far more likely that innovation programs will remain this way too.


Recognize triumphs and accept failure

To build a strong innovation strategy, it is important to recognize both triumphs and failures. Accepting that 95% of product innovations will fail is key. Even the biggest companies have had multiple failures before finding a golden nugget. Psychological safety means employees will no longer fear failure and can actively learn from it. However, it is equally important to reward - financially or otherwise - successes. This includes small triumphs.

Rewards actively make employees feel valued, which will reinforce positive habits. In turn, you should find that employees are even more inspired to innovate and take risks.


Scale over time

Finally, you must recognize that corporate innovation is a journey. Even established companies like CSS highlight the need to keep innovating. Tools like KICKBOX facilitate this by allowing your company to scale up, out, and deep. When combined with the ability to test out ideas in a hypothetical space before taking them to early adopters or to market, the approach to innovation can evolve.

This will keep the team engaged, leading to ongoing innovation while helping the firm scale, expand, and sustain its corporate innovation program.

Let us give you and your team the tools to promote innovation in your company. If you're rready to transform your business in all aspects, then reach out to us.

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