"One cannot be forever innovating. I only want to create classics.” - Coco Chanel
"One cannot be forever innovating. I only want to create classics.”
- Coco Chanel
Unfortunately Chanel has not been, and will not be the only person to struggle with the notion of innovation and its importance in both the workplace and the business market. The broadsheet newspaper, the VHS video and the humble posted letter are all signs of the rapidly changing world we live in and the reality that innovation is not just the magical ingredient but the essential ingredient to any company’s future.
In the early 1970s, Chanel sales were plummeting and renowned fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was hired as chief designer to reinvigorate the label. Once on board, Lagerfeld decided to break away from the traditional Chanel style and encouraged his employees to experiment with different fabrics and styles and to ‘bring back the magic’ that seemed to have been lost. Consequently Chanel reclaimed its iconic status in the fashion industry. Lagerfeld acted as the catalyst, transforming the company culture and reinstating an innovative focus.
Research suggests that the more innovative an organisation’s culture is, the more likely they are to prosper. Google is a prime success story, having encouraged innovation among their workforce by embedding it into the company job descriptions and allowing for employees to devote up to 20% of their time to projects that they are truly passionate about. The benefit of this approach is that Google not only attract but motivate and retain creative and innovative employees, and simultaneously maintain their prominent and enviable position in the global market.
Employees are typically the key to identifying smarter, faster, better or new ideas and so it is essential for companies to create an environment that encourages innovative thinking and action in order to inspire employees to share their knowledge, skills, experience and suggestions.
How can you inspire innovation?
1. Create a Supportive Environment
It is imperative for all staff, and especially management, to be open and accommodating when employees share their new ideas. Additionally it is critical to have a process to capture and assess new ideas. This gives employees confidence in making suggestions and knowing they will be appropriately considered irrespective of their role or seniority.
2. Encourage a Diverse Workforce and Teams
Whilst it is important to recruit for alignment with the company vision and values, it is imperative that to candidates with different perspectives and diverse backgrounds are considered including potentially internal applicants from other sectors of the company. Encouraging a diverse workforce and cross-functional/ multi-skilled teams will enable collaboration, problem solving and creative thinking.
3. Implement Effectively
Where possible, it is highly beneficial to implement employee ideas quickly. This will motivate employees to continue to be inventive and productive, as they will see that their contributions are influencing the direction of the business.
4. Provide Rewards and Recognition
Rewards and recognition programs can be used effectively to appreciate new ideas that are raised as well as celebrate the results of ingenuity in the organisation, whether the ideas are implemented or not. Effective programs can be developed for both big and small budgets and can focus on individuals, teams or even the whole workforce.
5. Enable Training and Development
Training and development initiatives that encourage and inspire new thought processes and approaches within the business will allow employees to grow in a professional capacity with the business then benefiting from the employee’s new skills and knowledge.
“What I love best in life is new starts.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Chanel and Blockbuster video have nothing in common as Blockbuster has all but gone. Meanwhile, Australia Post and News Corp are playing catch up, and so while you are cultivating and inspiring innovation in your organisation, bear in mind one further detail… as indicated by the quotation above, Lagerfeld enjoys innovation and while he did successfully revolutionise Chanel they did not live ‘happily ever after’ as Lagerfeld went on to launch his own celebrated fashion label. The moral of this tale? Once you have established a workforce that is geared towards innovation, your next step is to ensure that you retain your employees.
Contact WCA- People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with Human Resources and Industrial Relations on (08) 9383 3293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.