When talking about creating an innovative environment we need to first define what innovation is. Innovation in its purest form means to create something new, but it can also mean better solutions, new methods of doing something, finding more efficient and effective ways of completing a task, or creating new processes or workflows.

But what does fostering innovation mean?

Fostering innovation means to create an environment where employees are able to let ideas flow freely; it means being open to new ideas, allowing creativity to flow from all areas, and accepting that not all ideas are going to be multi-million dollar ones.

And not every innovative company has a set rule for doing things the same way; innovation can look different at various companies or even inside departments within a company.

Fostering innovation in your workplace is about finding what works for you and your employees and nurturing that to allow for success; because without innovation, there cannot be success.

Now think of all of the innovating companies out there — which companies first come to mind? Do you think about Google? Amazon? What about Salesforce.com? If you do a Google search of the top innovative companies, these are the ones that shoot to the top of the list. Now, some of these companies are a common household name, everyone knows who they are and what they do, but some of these companies you may have never heard of before. And that is okay. They are all making a name for themselves when it comes to fostering innovation and you will learn why throughout the day.

It is important to realize that innovation is what drives our society, along with marketing, but that is a topic for another day.

Think about your own life for a minute. When a new iPhone is released, or a new car with advanced features unlike any other vehicle you have owned comes on the market, do you immediately want that in your life? Do you think about ways you can make this a possibility for you? Why? It all boils down to the fact that we believe these new and innovative ideas are going to help make our lives better and easier. It is simple, really, innovation is what drives us. Technology, for example, is a sector built upon innovation. And we all use technology every single minute of every day, whether we realize it or not.

Are you using a typewriter at work? What about a Commodore 64? No, because thanks to innovation, thanks to a spark generated in these innovators’ minds, our lives have been impacted for the better, and these older forms of technology were replaced with improvements.

Now let’s go back to those companies that came to mind when we took a minute to think about innovative companies. I want you to take a minute and think about why some of these companies came to mind or maybe why they did not.

What are these companies doing to generate the success and growth they have continued to see? At the heart of these companies lies pure, unadulterated innovation.

A company focused on pushing the limits and trying new things is a company that no matter what, will find its footing.

Activity Ideas

What are the most well-known innovative companies?

Have the participants divide into groups of three to four people each, and brainstorm to create a list of companies they think are truly innovative. Why did they choose these examples? What do they think makes these companies unique, or especially innovative?

Discussion Points

Now, bring the group back together and combine all the information gathered onto a flip chart or whiteboard. Have a class discussion about the responses. What seems to be the conclusion?


Potential Answers

·         Willingness to listen to ideas

·         Great leaders

·         Relaxed, open environments

·         Fun workplaces

·         Creative spaces

·         Top-notch employees, experts in their fields

This is an excerpt from Velsoft’s latest softskills course release: Fostering Innovation.