Innovation is an ongoing buzzword. Leaders expect it, employees strive to develop it, but too often the quest for innovation results in wasted effort and resources. Why? There are too many reasons to explain in one post, but some of the key issues are lack of senior management support, lack of skills & ongoing practice, and lack of incentives. Yes, a lot of LACKS.

Strong senior management support is necessary to champion innovation projects. Providing emotional and resource support ensures employees understand the importance of the change in culture. Furthermore, leadership can accelerate the learning curve and implementation through mentoring and reducing barriers to innovation. It must start at the top to change a culture. Training is another key area to develop innovation.
Employees need to have the proper skills to create and innovate. Ongoing training is critical to learn basic problem solving and critical thinking skills. Developing strong habits through questioning, experimentation, and associating is critical for long-term benefits. Practicing skills helps to form long-term habits.

Continuous practice is required to ensure employees use the skills daily. Daily practice increases confidence and develops increasingly sharp observation and questioning skills. As employees improve innovative skills the ability to implement them to improve the business increases. A reward system is also critical to drive ongoing innovation work.

Finally, a rewards system is needed to drive incentives and maintain desire to push forward during adverse times. Rewards depend on the culture, but it does not have to only include money. Trips, training, and gifts are just some of the ways to reward staff. Often, the best method is simply recognition among peers. Rewards do not have to require a lot of resources.

Innovation is critical for long-term organizational sustainability. Without the proper foundation, innovation will remain a fleeting aspect of corporate life. Developing systematic innovation to reinvigorate a corporate culture is an excellent way to create products, develop motivated employees, and attract lifetime loyalty from consumers.