At some point in our industrial evolution, a much greater emphasis was placed on ensuring optimal results. Efficiency and a strong focus on keeping your Middle Market firm running lean and mean are certainly lofty goals. Producing the best results is incredibly important to keeping your company running and paying the bills. At some point, however, you will likely expend your abilities to get faster, cleaner, better, etc.
Also, you may find focusing solely on results and efficiency are netting very small gains. So, when you need to keep improving but refining and perfecting processes aren’t the answer, where should your Middle Market company look?
The Argument For Innovation
Perhaps you have an R&D team or at least a focus on refining your products and processes. But, do you place the same importance on keeping ahead of your competitors or on developing new products, services and processes as you do on getting a little faster or better?
Why does innovation matter? If your Middle Market company wants to be disruptive or stay well ahead of the pack, refining and perfecting current products, services, and production won’t get you there. If you truly want to reap big rewards, you’ll need to do things differently than you do currently. When you start placing equal importance and dollars into innovation as you do on performance, your organization will likely see fantastic results.
How To Reward Innovators
You probably have incentive programs for your Sales teams and maybe in a few other areas. But, very few companies have developed a way to reward innovation. The first step, of course, is to make sure innovation is a focal point.
Start somewhere and a good place is to identify a team, department or group tasked with innovation. Ensure you want to focus time and money towards finding and developing new thoughts. Your C-Suite, Executives, and Leaders will need to be involved and on board as well. Develop key goals and measurable ROI if you want to begin rewarding innovative thinking.
Next, think about how you could reward innovation in a meaningful and sustainable way. For instance, a monthly or quarterly bonus structure might not be effective or work. But, employees won’t work towards an amorphous goal either, so you’ll have to spend some time putting together a reward or bonus program.
Getting employee feedback will likely be important. So, start having conversations and gathering suggestions.
An Air Of Innovation
As important as rewards are, if your Middle Market firm truly wants to be an innovative disruptor, an air of innovation will need to be cultivated. This will require a top-down and likely bottom up approach. Start conversations about innovation and let every employee know you welcome their input.
Don’t discount anything that comes your way and make sure everyone can be incentivized for their efforts and ideas.
Lastly, innovation and invention are supposed to be exciting and possibly even fun. Maybe your Middle Market firm would benefit from holding competitions or events that spark creativity and get employees engaged in becoming more free thinking.
No matter what your current innovation focus and forecast, if you want to see dramatic gains, you should be focused on rewarding innovative thinking as much as you do results and efficiency.
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