How to promote innovation in the workplace

By September 7, 2014The Workplace
workplace innovation

Innovation is a key contributor to the ongoing success of a business. Many businesses start off with innovative products or services, but over time their competitor’s catch up or worse still, create a better product or service. This can leave those original innovators with a declining market share and no point of difference.

Here are some foolproof ways to help your workplace promote innovation.


Innovation is contagious, people are inspired by people who can generate and act on new ideas.  Some of the world’s largest companies such as Coca Cola have identified that innovation needs to be integrated across all business sectors, going so far as to create a position within their executive team specifically for innovation. Show real leadership in innovation by including it in the scope of a directors role and integrating it across your business sectors.

Foster idea generation

Many of the leading organisations reward there employees with time for innovation.  Altassian and 3M are among some leading companies which allocate time to staff either as a reward or staff incentive to test out ideas.  Unbillable time, which has no requirement for reporting or associated KPI’s, provides employees with the opportunity to explore ideas. If the ideas turn out to be a success then they should be celebrated and rewarded accordingly.

Workplace culture

Control and power systems within a workplace are often the key inhibitors of innovation.  Even in creative work environments, innovation can be inhibited by the organisational hierarchy and red tape, suffocating innovation generation which could ultimately benefit the organisations products and services.  Understanding workplace culture and the factors which contribute to it may identify opportunities for change that can lead to more innovative workplace practices.

Workplace Design

Flexible work environments are becoming increasingly popular, these kinds of work environments are not specifically designed to promote innovation but they can go a long way to promoting a workplace culture which supports innovation.  Companies that want to promote innovation in the workplace should consider the internal training and development opportunities they could provide to foster such innovation and address whether the physical workplace is flexible enough to cater for it. The physical workplace can provide essential tools and resources that people need explore ideas, such as laboratory style environments, workshops, thinking pods, collaboration spaces and access to required technology.

The location of your workplace

The physical location of the workplace should also be considered. Increasingly the government is promoting innovation hubs which are co-located with Universities, the Wollongong University Innovation Campus is a great example of this.  These hubs provide opportunities for the organisations to participate in University research and have generated some of Australia’s most innovative start-ups such as Altassian, they have also contributed to the continued innovation of some of Australia’s best known companies like Bluescope.

About the Author: Michelle Bishop is a Director of Max & Buddy Consulting. Her experience in the Commercial Property Industry has provided unique perspectives into workplace design, organisational change, motivation and workplace culture. Michelle has a passion for people & communities and is a representative for several non for profits, charities, Government boards and committees who benefit from her creative, strategic approach and extensive professional network. Michelle has studied at Post Graduate Level in Management at Sydney Business School. Michelle’s approach is collaborative, strategic and outcome focused.



Image Credits: Shutterstock

About Zena Churchill

Zena Churchill is a Director at Max & Buddy Consulting. She has worked in senior level business roles across national and multinational corporations, as well as being a small business owner. Zena is a strategic thinker and brings a practical, straight-forward approach to marketing and social media. She has a passion for training & development running practical business workshops for small business. Zena is a Certified Practising Marketer (AMI), sometimes tutors in Marketing at the University of Wollongong and is a Senior Consultant with Trinity P3.

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