Taking your best shot is more than going for a win. It’s about the courage to try.

This courage comes from the culture you create and the confidence and inspiration you instill in your employees.  In order to develop strategic plans and innovation initiatives to move the organization forward, we must first understand the current culture and purpose of the organization.  Without ensuring you have a strong culture you will not be able to effectively execute your strategy in a sustainable way.  “Culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker).”

One of the key messages to send to your employees in order to create this culture of innovation is that you will celebrate failures as well as successes and that this process of continuous innovation is vital for professional growth and the company’s bottom line.

When things do not turn out the way we had planned, it’s important to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on the momentary setback.

Many companies incentivize success when employees meet certain sales goals or other performance metrics. This approach, however, doesn’t reward innovation enough.  You need to reward all innovation outcomes that help build out your innovation engine, even the failed projects.

Business leaders must allow employees to try out new ideas and grow from their mistakes along the way. This includes cheering on calculated risks and fresh approaches to old recurring problems.   The leader’s number one priority is to reduce risk and uncertainty.  To do that we need to put rigorous testing and experimentation processes in place to help determine whether to progress with an idea or not. It is about taking small bets and testing the ideas quickly and inexpensively to determine if anyone but you cares about the idea.

Employers may tie decisions about promotions solely on bottom-line numbers, failing to unearth energetic employees who thrive in trying new ideas. New ideas and new energy can be more valuable in the long run than a small uptick in sales in the fourth quarter.  Organizations must motivate and inspire employees to want to come to work and be engaged.   Employee engagement is critical for a company’s brand, retention, and innovation.  69% of U.S. employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work (Gallup, 2020). According to Great Place to Work (2017), employees who said they have a great place to work were 20x more likely to say their workplace exhibits traits linked to innovation.

It’s also important for leaders and entrepreneurs to know when to call it quits and kill a project that’s not going anywhere. Project managers must be given the freedom to make these decisions and keep the innovation pipeline moving freely. This approach helps companies move on, free up resources, and then tackle the next big idea.  This idea of continuous innovation and creating a culture of innovation will create significant financial benefits for the organization, create happier employees, and help keep you from becoming obsolete.