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Innovation is a term used far too often in the business world. But that does not mean it’s not important.

In order to truly succeed, your company/brand/product must stand out from the crowd. It must offer something, do something, or solve something completely unique. This requires innovative thinking.

In order to recruit, retain, and inspire innovative thinkers, we should incentivize it. While it’s true that many innovations are accidents or random, creative thinking is a skill that can be practiced and honed. And in order to encourage more of it at your company, you must remove the obstacles to it.

That means first recognizing that not everything you do will be a success. Failure is far more common. Organizations and leaders must acknowledge this fact, and convince their teams that failure will not be punished.

In fact, in many of the leading innovative organizations, failure is rewarded. When you reward failure, you incentivize people to try new things, come up with creative solutions to problems, and take initiative. You eliminate the stigma that comes with failure, and get people thinking about things in bold new ways.

At this point, a lot of managers and team leaders will be shaking their heads. The concept makes sense, they’ll think. But won’t this lead to a lot more failure? What if the big breakthrough or success never comes?

These are common fears, and completely natural. The key is in the message, and in how you reward employees who think outside the box.

You are not paying people to fail. What you are paying them for, is to try. Failure is just a step on the road to success. So you must be willing to invest in the process, not just the success.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do reward employees for new ideas
  • Do highlight all the behind the scenes work that goes into successes
  • Do spread the word throughout the organization
  • Do train people on how to harness their creativity
  • Don’t fire people for trying