This month’s previous article discussed the need for businesses to narrow the gap between their strategy for innovation and their ability to execute that strategy. In today’s post I’d like to dive deeper into the topic of how companies may kick-start their innovative drives and put the spark back in their business.

How does your company work with creativity? Does innovation naturally lead your work and organization, or do you need to push hard for innovation to take place? In my observation, this can be a meaningful question, since the best companies often have the drive for innovation naturally embedded in their cultural makeup. I’d like to share here some thoughts on the many ways to put that spark back into a business. As always, please share your comments and feedback below.

 Finding the Inspiration

Stroll through almost any established office environment and you’ll hear terms like “nine-to-five” and “daily grind” thrown around. They’re common ways to describe the routines we often find ourselves in, and hearing such descriptions from loyal and productive employees is a surefire way to make an attentive manager frown.

The truth is your employees are grateful for steady work and benefits, and they’re productive. But some of them, maybe more, are on autopilot. Rather than building their skills, they may be slowly turning into drones. Yes, they complete their work, in the microcosm of their own job description, but outside their desk, the picture is blurry. They’ve lost sight of the company vision. Sometimes a shakeup is just what you need to get employees excited about possibilities. Ask them what they need. Show them some new ideas. Then turn them loose.

Surveys with Substance

Surveys are often met with groans, and deservedly so. The key is to ask good questions of the people who can best answer them. Targeted surveys gather impressions of the company while reserving more specific questions for their demographics. For example, employees in Accounting might get questions about the new computer system, while those in IT are asked about on-call scheduling. You get the information you need without making employees feel like the questions are interrogating them, using too many buzzwords, or too generic.

Do What You Do – Let Others Do the Rest

I truly believe any organization is the sum of its people, and each person within a company has certain key skills that collectively constitute a company’s competitive advantage. In this way, it is mission-critical to the success of a company that each employee spends their time doing what they do best. The question from which new ideas and innovation emerge is: “What is best for me to focus on?”

Oftentimes it’s too easy for a CEO or employees to waste their valuable time doing tasks that fall outside the scope of that question. This is why I’m a firm believer in teaming up with business partners that are able to handle the important work a company simply was not founded to do – this is what I call “RightSourcing” (as opposed to “outsourcing”). Hiring experts to handle something like accounting and finance may appear an exorbitant expense at first glance, but in reality it is a fraction of the cost of the wasted time and opportunity and eventual mess that inevitably occurs.

To empower myself and my team to focus on what’s best for us, RAY ALLEN has since its founding over 10 years ago teamed up with our local business process outsourcing partner that does amazing work handling an array of our internal business needs, and it’s this additional expertise that allows us to exclusively focus on our strengths. If you’re looking for such a partner, I highly recommend you connect with INT (www.intinc.com).

Let Them Play

Moreover, employees are happier when they feel open to creative expression. That doesn’t mean you need a game room in your lounge, but it does mean that giving employees room to experiment can yield unexpected and positive results. Maybe you’ve brought in a business mentor to refine the workflows used in processing orders. Perhaps implementing the proposed changes has improved the workflow, but your employees have come up with a few ideas of their own to tweak things. If the idea is good, trust their instincts and let ’em go for it!

New and Old

In sum, established businesses often feel stuffy and old fashioned if they’re treated like antique furniture. A modern touch, with fresh ideas and a bit of adventurous spirit, can bring those dronish employees back to life. The noticeable benefits might include upticks in productivity and revenue. The longer term benefits will be more trust, enthusiasm, and warmth in your employees. In my experience, sometimes the things that make or break your company are those that can’t be easily measured on paper.

Todd Ringleman

Todd Ringleman

Founder, CEO at RAY • ALLEN INC
Todd Ringleman is Founder and CEO of RAY • ALLEN INC. Under Todd’s leadership, RAY • ALLEN INC has grown from a disruptive idea into a leading partner in the IT Asset Management and Recurring Revenue market.
Todd Ringleman

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