Innovation is the new differentiator. Therefore, use all your efforts to keep jobs stimulating. And when employees’ creativity has significant results, express appreciation publicly for jobs well done. Your approach is to be evenhanded, open-minded, and fair.

Further, in all initiatives associated with innovation, support your people, communicate a vision of growth, provide them with the resources to do their jobs, and motivate them to learn and grow. As important, stand by them if something goes awry. Or else you shut them down—along with creativity.

Also work at cultivating your group’s mini-culture. 3M safeguards its culture by enlisting old-time employees to recount company history and hand down stories of 3M’s long tradition of innovation to new engineers. Expanding the technique throughout the organization, after a while, every new employee is able to recite the foundation precepts that are the underpinnings of the organization.

Of course, be sure that what you focus on with your group complements the overall organizational culture. In doing so, you will find that parts of the culture deal with the work environment and issues related to quality of life. Do not expect innovation and performance from troubled and discouraged individuals with life issues.

What follows is for you to establish criteria for evaluating innovation. You need to let the staff know how they will be measured. Frequently used measures of innovation include the following:

  • • Overall revenue growth that is attributed to innovations
  • • Percentage of total sales from new products or services
  • • Level of customer satisfaction
  • • Improvements in market share
  • • Comparisons of innovations measured against chief competitors by product category and market segment
  • • Actual number of new products or services launched
  • • Rate of new product successes
  • • Other criteria required by your company

[There is] the so-called theory that weapons decide everything. Our view is opposed to this; we see not only weapons but also people. Weapons are an important factor, but not the decisive factor; it is people not things that are decisive.

Mao Tse-tung

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