Spur Entrepreneurial Thinking on Your Team

By Harvard Business Review
May 14, 2019

Even careers that aren’t oriented toward revenue generation are being asked these days to contribute to the bottom line. A spirit of openness can encourage innovation.

Even careers that aren’t oriented toward revenue generation are being asked these days to contribute to the bottom line. Open experimentation is foundational to any team that’s serious about innovation.

But which activities and behaviors ensure that new ideas see the light of day? While there’s no single initiative that will make an organization an innovation powerhouse overnight, here are some ways to get started:

Get comfortable with failure: Organizations should be hyperaware of how their managers and leaders are encouraging experimentation and failure — from something as simple as listening to the language that higher-ups respond with when confronted with a new idea, to more complex issues such as re-evaluating the incentive structure in the employee compensation packages.

Make macromanagement a core tenet: Macromanagement, or “management from afar,” is critical to encourage a leadership mentality and plays a major role in helping to nurture creativity. Individuals need to have a sense of ownership to allow themselves to try things that haven’t been tried before, and to let their inspirations morph into practical solutions.

Champion the pursuit of external interests: When people can openly share their extracurricular interests with their colleagues and are encouraged to express their authentic selves at work, they see themselves as more than their job titles. And that is a precondition for allowing new ideas to be freely shared. Managers should be careful not to dissuade team members from spending significant time outside work hours on external projects, even if they seem to have nothing to do with improving the core skills that their respective roles require.

Copyright 2019 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Leadership

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