How to Manage Change and Innovation in Business

Innovation must be fostered by any successful corporate enterprise.
Innovation must be fostered by any successful corporate enterprise. (Image: Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Change and innovation are necessary for any business organization's success. The marketplace demands innovation from a business to compete successfully and evolve in a rapidly changing economy fueled by technological breakthroughs and global expansion opportunities. Recognizing how vital innovation is to business success and fully understanding how to implement and manage change are two entirely different propositions. Factors that must be considered before implementing any significant business change include: management and employee commitment to the change; tools required to implement the change; and a guaranteed period of trial and error for assessment and modifications.

Foster an environment that encourages innovation. Add new jobs designed for creative employees who "think outside of the box." Hire creative thinkers and nurture them as they develop new ideas. Provide the creative team with ongoing professional support. Encourage new ideas from all employees by opening up communication channels between top management and all employees at every level. Reward employees openly for new innovative thinking. Make it safe to fail with new ideas, to encourage continued input and to support employees who participate in creating change.

Screen new ideas thoroughly before adopting them. Evaluate ideas based on the parameters of value, suitability,acceptability, feasibility and weathering the test of time. A careful and systematic analysis of proposed changes will eliminate a lot of wasted time and resources spent implementing bad ideas. By careful investigation upfront, the organization can protect employees from change overload and maintain morale and receptivity to new ideas.

Align innovation with business strategy. Management must quickly identify innovations that are inconsistent with business goals and strategies. Eliminating changes that could ultimately undermine business success is very critical. Change can be positive or negative, and negative change has the power to devastate a company's viability.

Communicate the vision and benefits of a new innovation to managers and employees, explaining why the change is necessary and how it will benefit the company. Train staff members to play a successful role in implementing the necessary changes. Reward and recognize key employees who champion the new changes and contribute to a successful transition.

Provide managers and employees with the tools they need to implement changes. Nothing spells disaster like sending employees out to tackle a new project without the training and management support they need.

Plan for an adjustment period and at the same time implement the change. Employees must be given some latitude to mess up, as they learn how to adjust to change. Expecting immediate perfection during a transitional period is unrealistic and undermines employee morale.

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