A coworker and boss discussing changes in the workplace.
Today’s business world moves faster than ever. Which means every business – no matter how large or small – needs to keep moving forward in order to survive. But sometimes the person in charge of the company gets stuck in a rut. Rather than running the business with an eye toward the future, they get caught up in the successes of the past and stop innovating, which can put everyone’s job in jeopardy.
If your boss needs some help in doing things differently, try these strategies.
Explain that doing nothing is often the bigger risk.
Bosses often hesitate to innovate because of the perceived financial risk. Yet, the corporate landscape is littered with companies that either lost significant market share or failed altogether because they refused to change – Pan Am Airways, Borders, and Blockbuster Video to name a few. When the boss balks at a new idea or initiative, suggest that standing pat may not be the best strategy.
Provide examples of successful innovation.
Sometimes bosses need to see what innovation looks like in other companies to jog their innovation efforts. Take them to visit start-up companies that are doing something new and different. Visit ex-customers who just left your company to go to an innovative competitor. Send articles that highlight successful new products and services and how they were developed. Often, a new perspective is all it takes to kickstart a new way of doing things.
Let the boss know you’re on their side.
People at the top of a business often feel alone and isolated from the lower levels. As a result, they may exclude front-line employees from the innovation process. But studies show that employees offer a great source of ideas and inspiration for new products or services. Encourage your boss to put processes in place that support and reward employees for suggesting ways to improve your products, services or work processes. Toyota became the #1 auto manufacturer in part because of the large number of ideas and suggestions it receives from its workforce.
Try Kicking Inside the Box
Bosses often fail to innovate because they don’t have a process for doing it. That’s where a tool like Kickbox – a new, open source innovation process from Adobe – comes in handy. Designed for individuals and organizations, Kickbox helps increase innovator effectiveness, accelerate innovation velocity, and measurably improve innovation outcomes. It can also help reduce the cost of the innovation process.
Expect some failure.
Even the best companies don’t get it right all time. It took Thomas Edison more than a thousand tries to perfect the light bulb. And Colonel Sanders reportedly tried his chicken recipe more than a thousand times before he found the winning recipe. If your boss gives up after one or two failed attempts, point out that it’s okay to make mistakes some of the time – and to never give up!