44335623_SThe culture you foster at your company creates an environment where employees will either thrive or flounder. Are you deliberately creating the culture that you want? Here are our 7 tips for creating a culture that fosters innovation. If you want to thrive in today’s fast-paced, technologically-demanding business environment, you can implement these tips for awesome results! It’s all about C.U.L.T.U.R.E.

Collaborate – Businesses used to go to great lengths to protect the recipe of their secret sauce. With today’s tech and the overwhelming amount of information out there, most things are a Google search away. Instead, create partnerships with other businesses to share ideas. Fast Company suggests that you hook up with “complementary corporations, universities, government agencies, and think tanks” to help your business see problems from different perspectives and cultivate new ideas.

Uncover potential – Find leaders at every level in your organization and champion them. A heavy-handed leader sitting in the chair at the top is not part of an environment conducive to innovation. Empower your people to act independently.

Listen – Both your employees and your customers have great insights. It’s likely these can lead to new innovations. Create areas where ideas can easily be shared whether they’re physical or digital spaces. Then promote and showcase them.

Think 10x – This idea comes from Google and is the notion that you set the goal to improve something by 10 times rather than by 10%. When shooting for the stars like this, you need to approach an idea in an entirely new way. Dump the existing models and start with a new sheet of paper. This is where grabbing a “novice” comes in handy because they’re not already thinking about the way “it’s always done.”

Understand – Dr. Stephen Covey teaches that we should seek first to understand then to be understood. This is great advice, and we’d like to sandwich another bit of advice to this right in the middle: seek to show that you understand. Take the ideas you’ve been listening to and make them your priority first before pushing your own ideas. And remember the step in between, which is to echo back the ideas to your employees and customers. Communication and understanding matter.

Remain open – If you tend to go to your “experts” for ideas and questions, you may be shutting off some incredible ideas from sources you hadn’t considered. Sometimes a zany idea may actually be an awesome product, once executed. Keep an open mind.

Embrace #FAIL – Did you know that a number of world-changing innovations were created because of failures? These include a pacemaker, the microwave, penicillin, post-it notes and x-rays! Some of your best changes and ideas come after failures, but only if your cultural response is one that fosters growth.

Make today the day that you deliberately embrace a CULTURE of innovation. It’s about more than the latest technology, the biggest network or the fastest server. Innovation starts with your people. What have you found that works for you?