Business innovation is often hailed as the channel through which organisations can optimise their product or service offering to better meet the market’s needs in a more efficient and profitable way. However, when it comes to innovation, most companies want to improve, as it is an area where they don’t see themselves doing enough.

So what can be done to encourage an innovative culture in business? How can we improve the internal processes which sometimes stifle the creative input? These are some of the solutions we have identified – but we are constantly looking for new ideas and thoughts on how to boost innovation. We’d love to hear from you and hear what methods you have found to help encourage innovation in business! [Tweet “What methods have you found to help encourage #innovation in #business?”]

1. Build a trust culture

We all know that any development process is likely to throw up previously unknown issues and challenges. As much as senior planners and project managers want to believe they are able to predict all potential snags in advance and the best way to handle them, this is often not an ideal use of their time. The best solutions occur when you allow your teams to discover and address these challenges together, without the expectation of having a complete, up-front view of every possible scenario. When the business genuinely trusts in its delivery team, you will start nurturing an innovative atmosphere in your business.[Tweet “The best #solutions occur when you allow your teams to discover and address #challenges together”]

2. Take the lean path

These days, many organisations are embracing the Agile approach when it comes to managing projects and solution deliveries. This methodology builds on the concept of “Lean Requirements”, where the organisation focuses on producing only the features that are directly valued by the customer, enabling the business to increase quality while reducing development time and costs.

The key building block for taking a Lean approach is a cross-functional team of stakeholders who engage and understand the main objectives. If they can work together to achieve an early prototype that validates some of the assumptions made with the market, they can reduce the long term risk for the business and improve the original concept. By releasing regular iterations, they can gradually deliver a complete product, but providing functional versions along the way. This allows the company to confidently track funds spent and value delivered – and change its investment strategy on the go if needed. This fluid, Agile approach encourages innovation at every step of the way.

3. Welcome failure

One of the best ways to discover a working solution is to discover ones that don’t work. Running a trial that fails to meet the defined objectives should not be considered a waste of time. Instead, it serves to provide valuable lessons that help the business identify critical problems or issues and how to avoid them.

Businesses often craft some of its most innovative solutions when faced with a failed project. By pulling out every learning from the experience, they can go back to the drawing board with a much more educated perspective. Whether the issue resides in the make-up of the solution, in its reception by the market or the competition, the failure should never be castigated by the business but instead recognised as a stepping stone towards a superior product.

4. Retain flexibility

Some of the most innovative businesses are the ones that expect the unexpected. By building in scope for potential change of direction, you allow the business to respond to shifts in the marketplace. Sudden changes in the political or economic landscape can have an immediate impact on your project, while also introducing a whole new business opportunity. By having a flexible approach to development and project management, you can encourage innovation that looks to maximise the new market conditions rather than forcing through a rigid plan which no longer fits as well as it would have done before.

When you apply these practices consistently across your business, you will start seeing a more innovative culture develop. You may wish to keep this momentum by rewarding innovation internally and recognising efforts and contributions that drive the business in new, dynamic directions.