strengths development + engagement = innovation

Encourage Innovation Blog from Star Thrower Distribution


I know I am dating myself, but I remember when we had a rotary phone. You know, the phone with the dial that went click, click, click as it turned. The whole family shared it. If you wanted to call, you would have to wait your turn. Minimum changes in technology allowed them to keep that same phone for many, many years.

This is a far cry from today. We no longer have a landline. Every person carries their own cell phone. These phones are amazing. They take pictures, act as your personal assistant and allow you to access information anywhere in the world.

We also know that because of new features and improvements, the phone we have now will be "old" within a year.

This points out a fundamental truth: Change is coming faster and faster. Adopting to continual change is not only the new norm, but it is also required organizational behavior.

To encourage an innovative culture, you need to invite every member of your team to be more creative. This requires more than a memo, it requires consistent investment in learning and conversation.

A recent Gallop poll on innovation reinforced this point:

“When examined through the employee engagement lens, the impact of these factors -- focusing on strengths and encouraging new ideas -- was even more evident. Sixty-five percent of all engaged employees stated that their organization is committed to building employee strengths and encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom. Among actively disengaged employees, this number plummets to a mere 2%.”  In other words, innovation isn’t something people just do. It requires a place where they feel safe to take a chance.

Here is a simple formula Gallop offered:  

strengths development + engagement = innovation

What they identified, and what you should take to heart, is that people are innovative not by the organization getting out of the way, but by it being an encouraging, positive force in the process.

Here are 4 ways to help people grow and be engaged: 

  • Set aside group time every week to meet and learn as a group
  • Acknowledge and celebrate creativity
  • Ask for ideas and feedback
  • Show you care about their personal growth 

Building an environment that focuses on strengths and invites engagement will help you get the best ideas out of everyone.