30 Entrepreneurs Explain The Best Ways to Innovate a Team

Innovation is a critical factor in improving the competitiveness of a business. What does it take to drive innovation in a team? It’s all about building a culture of flexibility that accepts the associated risks. Innovation also thrives in favorable environments where employees are motivated for their hard work.

Here’s what entrepreneurs and business owners had to say about how they drive innovation in their teams.

#1- Introducing mindfulness practice

Photo Credit: Mark Pierce

One way to encourage innovation on a team is to introduce a mindfulness practice. Scheduling things like breathing breaks or moments to just relax for a few minutes can make a world of difference to an overstressed employee. Because employees are always on the go, they tend to be very tightly wound. Without the relaxation of a few minutes here and there, they may significantly shorten their work lifetimes and maybe even lead to long-term health complications.

Thanks to Mark Pierce, Cloud Peak Law Group!

#2- Trusting employees to take risks

Photo Credit: Leslie Radka

You can innovate teams by empowering your employees to make decisions and take action. People who are trusted to take calculated risks and try innovative approaches to problems may just discover the next big company idea. However, when things go wrong, be careful not to be too harsh, because your staff will notice. No one wants to be the focus of negative attention; therefore, people will be hesitant to make suggestions if they are concerned about the implications.

Thanks to Leslie Radka, Great People Search!

#3-  Upskilling and retooling

Photo Credit: Victoria Mendoza

We value our employees who have worked with our various projects and we want them to grow with us as a company. As a tech expert and as CEO we have been making upskilling and retooling an important part of their MediaPeanut career journey.  We do in-house training for new skills for some of our new employees while the tenured ones are given opportunities for higher learning in outsourced training programs all fully paid by the company as an added perk to their employment with us.

Thanks to Victoria Mendoza, Media Peanut!

#4- Recognizing good work

Photo Credit: Brian David Crane

Let your team know when they've done a good job. Giving positive feedback will make your team more confident in their work and abilities, and more likely to share their ideas and collaborate with others. Leaders can sometimes feel stressed or pressed for time, but taking a few minutes to tell a team member Good job, can go a long way and provide them with the boost of confidence they need to share their idea in the next meeting.

Thanks to Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas!

#5- Encourage to collaborate

Photo Credit: George Tsagas

Create a culture where everyone's input is respected. Don't dismiss half-baked ideas but press into them and flesh them out. Ask what if? and spend time every week brainstorming ideas, even if it's half an hour on a Friday. Pair unlikely departments together to solve each department's most pressing problems. Encourage team members to be critical but growth-oriented about processes. Reward them for finding solutions and above all, encourage team members to collaborate as they create solutions.

Thanks to George Tsagas, eMathZone!

#6- Encouraging out of the box thinking

Photo Credit: Jared Stern

The best way to innovate a team is by encouraging opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking. Ensure your business environment is challenging and stimulating. This will help employees stay alert and act quickly. It is essential to look out for signs of burnout. If employees are burnt out, they will disengage from work. Encourage a culture of brainstorming and innovation. Reward employees who take active efforts to contribute. Go on a workcation, let employees be the manager for a day.

Thanks to Jared Stern, Uplift Legal Funding!

#7- Diversity and a good environment

Photo Credit: Jessica Luna

Good leaders know that innovation comes from multiple sources. If all people are cut from the same cloth, what new ideas can we expect? Innovative teams are made up of people with different personalities and skills. Also, it is essential to have an environment
where people feel comfortable thinking and presenting ideas. And not only that, but they also need time to innovate.

Thanks to Jessica Luna, Net Influencer!

#8- Eliminate the red tape

Photo Credit: Larissa Pickens

A set hierarchy, a multi-layered approval process, and a rigid way of doing things are necessary up to a certain extent. But if it is an innovative streak you seek, you may have to do away with as many layers of red tape as possible. In cutting down on the time and effort that goes into these run-of-the-mill routines in each process, you make way for innovative changes that don’t just help you invigorate the organization but help you motivate and energize employees too.

Thanks to Larissa Pickens, Everfumed!

#9- Encourage ideas and opinion

Photo Credit: Sam Speller

I have learned that the best way to encourage innovation in a team is to provide a safe space for people to voice their ideas and opinions. I never criticize someone’s ideas and am always receptive to what my team members think about what we are doing and what we can do to improve it. If you can cultivate an environment that encourages original thought and innovation, you will see that good ideas start flowing.

Thanks to Sam Speller, Kenko Tea!

#10- Incorporating intrapreneurship

Photo Credit: Grant Polachek

There's a very interesting concept we have incorporated in our management system, that is intrapreneurship. The concept mainly involves having an entrepreneurship culture within the company. Employees are encouraged to work with entrepreneurial skills and do the best they can for the firm. It creates a more inclusive and positive work environment and has helped us achieve common goals as well as in the personality development of our employees.

Thanks to Grant Polachek, Squadhelp!

#11- Providing space for creativity

Photo Credit: Rafał Młodzki

The balance between controlling management and providing space for growth and
creativity is what fuels real innovation in the workplace. From a psychological perspective, it is nearly impossible to innovate without space and time to be creative and try new things. However, teams need a good leader to guide the path to success, so ignoring the management aspect won't work either. The right amount of productive discipline and encouraging creativity is something that has the potential to lead to great results.

Thanks to Rafal Mlodzki, Passport-Photo Online!

#12- Encourage accepting failures

Photo Credit: Rajeev Kumar

As someone who practices innovation in the workplace, I feel that the best way to go about innovation comes with giving your employees the chance to think tough and create opportunities to give back to society. When your employees think tough, they create innovative strategies which in turn helps them think about innovation consistently. And when they grow into consistent thinkers of innovation, they find ways to accept failures, shape them into success and pay it forward.

Thanks to Rajeev Kumar, Docu Collab!

#13- Motivate experiment without fear

Photo Credit: Sam Shepler

It's absolutely impossible for a team filled with fear of failure to think outside the box and bring new ideas to the table. Therefore, I think the best thing managers can do to innovate a team is to prioritize encouraging team members to unleash their ideas. A truly innovative team is always willing to experiment and find new ways of doing things through trial and error, but they won't ever find the courage to step up and share their ideas if they're being demanded perfection at all times.

Thanks to Sam Shepler, Testimonial Hero!

#14- Celebrating the wins

Photo Credit: Brad Hall

Celebrating and rewarding the wins is the best way to innovate your team. Specifically, making a deal of showing your appreciation and/or giving gifts. When wins are celebrated and rewarded, employees feel more motivated, which leads to them feeling inspired, and thus innovative. Team motivation will initiate the wheels of creativity and ingenuity to begin to turn and will get the creative juices flowing.

Thanks to Brad Hall, Sonu Sleep!

#15- Healthy professional relationship

Photo Credit: Sarah Jameson

A team thrives on having a sense of unity and one way to elevate that atmosphere is by forming our own team traditions. Setting an activity to do every week from simple movie nights to team dinners develops a culture of inclusivity and solidarity. And when everyone has a healthy professional relationship at work, then collaboration across the board improves as well as communication lines. This ultimately translates to employees being inspired to be innovative in their work and bring the best out of each other.

Thanks to Sarah Jameson, Green Building Elements!

#16- Providing wellness break

Photo Credit: Carter Reum

Overall, we’ve seen that wellness and mental well-being are now unprecedented opportunities for innovation and personal investment. Proactively scheduling blocks of focus time can also help your team be creative. At M13, we have a one-hour “daily wellness break” to make sure everyone has a chance to stretch, eat, go for a walk, or just enjoy a Zoom-free part of their day. Taking care of your mental health will ensure that you’re always focused and ready for the next big challenge.

Thanks to Carter Reum, M13!

#17- Encouraging experiment and learning

Photo Credit: Sheila Eugenio

The best way to innovate your team is by providing them with the opportunity to experiment and learn. Encourage your team members to take risks and try new things. Offer them a safe space to make mistakes, and give them the time and resources they need to explore new ideas. And most importantly, be willing to learn from them yourself. Innovation doesn't always come from the top down – sometimes it comes from the people who are closest to the problem.

Thanks to Sheila Eugenio, Media Mentions!

#18- Encourage decision-making and trust

Photo Credit: Shawn Plummer

The best way to innovate a team is to choose people with different strengths that complement each other to form a team and to empower them to share and implement ideas. A team that trusts each other and has fun together can collaborate more effectively and build on each other's ideas to come up with new innovations. If there's a team that's been struggling with innovation, consider changing the team members or reducing the team size. Encourage activities to build trust, empower them to make decisions, and bring diverse people together.

Thanks to Shawn Plummer, The Annuity Expert!

#19- Build psychological safety

Photo Credit: Stefan F. Dieffenbacher

Innovation requires teams to think freely and not be scared of fool's experiments. They need a strong belief system that their ideas are worth pursuing alongside tactical guidance. For this, you need to build Psychological Safety amongst your team, which refers to the idea that each member should feel safe when they speak up or make a radical suggestion. In most cases, the top-level management is responsible for building an environment that supports this kind of safety. Break beyond the confines of business processes to achieve true innovation.

Thanks to Stefan F. Dieffenbacher, Digital Leadership!

#20- Incentivize employees

Photo Credit: Jordan Duran

I frequently reward high-performing employees who hit key milestones. My company offers various incentives to reward outstanding work, including significant monthly bonuses to top performers, work-from-home days, and even extra days off and/or vacation time. Good employees are naturally valuable members of a team and frequently do great work. But when they’re motivated to achieve even greater success, the quality of their work and willingness to give extra effort can increase dramatically.

Thanks to Jordan Duran, 6 Ice LLC!

#21-  Encourage making mistakes

Photo Credit: Adam Garcia

The best way to innovate your team is to encourage productive mistake-making. This means encouraging your team to share their ideas, even if they’re a bit silly. Chances are, there may be some merit to them. This same logic applies to when they actually do make mistakes. Instead of criticizing them, ask them why they think it happened and how they can navigate the situation now that it happened. Encourage creativity, you’ll be surprised what people can do.

Thanks to Adam Garcia, The Stock Dork!

#22- Set the challenge & meet the goal

Photo Credit: James Watts

My business thrives on numbers, and the higher our stats and response rate, the more we make. So every week, I challenge my team to beat the previous week's figures by creating imaginative and creative content that can and will inspire and drive our audience. And if they meet that goal, they’ll all get a share of the extra profit that they bring in. Challenge and reward. It’s that simple.

Thanks to James Watts, Own The Grill!

#23- Encourage team collaboration

Photo Credit: Jeff Goodwin

Collaboration with a team of employees whose gifts are optimized is the key to innovation! Get to know each staff member's strengths. When workers are encouraged to focus on the aspects of the job that use their top talents they tend to be less stressed and more focused, allowing innovation to thrive. In addition, when team members are called upon to operate in their strengths they feel understood and their confidence grows which translates to creativity.

Thanks to Jeff Goodwin, Orgain!

#24- Offering incentives

Photo Credit: Laura Jimenez

Innovating is hard work is always my focus. Lack of incentive could be detrimental. A process for identifying and incentivizing innovative thinking individuals in any organization is a must. A pat on the back to an outright profit-sharing mechanism and everything in between may be employed to encourage individuals to align their interests with the organization's interests. Only then will innovation happen and I experienced it myself.

Thanks to Laura Jimenez, Ishine365!

#25- Making the workplace a fun venture

Photo Credit; Chun-Kai Wang

A relaxed atmosphere in your company with a bunch of laughter goes a long way in defining your company culture and encouraging the freedom to be innovative. The more stressed the employees get, the more are their chances of being less productive and innovative in the workplace. It makes it hard to concentrate and think of innovative ideas. Host fun and engaging sessions wherein employees are encouraged to share their innovative ideas and have a fun experience in tapping on their creative minds.

Thanks to Chun-Kai Wang,!

#26- Competitive Learning

Photo Credit: Donald Thompson

One way we innovate is through competitive learning, which is learning agility plus hustle. It means actively and relentlessly pursuing information, challenges, and opportunities for growth. In this quick-changing market, competitive learning is a leadership imperative. Being a competitive learner means actively fostering a culture of teamwork, critical thinking, and inclusion. It means making sure the right people are in the room, then listening to and respecting their input. Those people will be your single greatest resource for new information, ideas, and innovation.

Thanks to Donald Thompson, The Diversity Movement!

#27- Promote unconventional thinking

Photo Credit: Ronald Williams

I welcome bold decisions and unconventional thinking–whether or not they work for the first time. I always praise people for innovative ideas, direct them, and indicate the best way to achieve an innovative goal, show the importance that each one has within the team, and make everyone fall in love with the work. I believe in expanding the dialogue, listening to the ideas and opinions of those who make our business alive, and allowing everyone to feel part of the decision-making process.

Thanks to Ronald Williams, Best People Finder!

#28- Brainstorming sessions

Photo Credit: Brandon Li

In my experience, one of the best ways to innovate a team is to host some brainstorming sessions, so that the innovation is created through collaborative efforts. I find that this makes the team a lot more eager to implement new ideas and methods, and it gets them personally involved, as they can aim to change things for the better, and so that they are all working more comfortably. Brain-storming can be a lot of fun too, and it can double-up as a way to identify problems or issues that need solving.

Thanks to Brandon Li, With Power!

#29- Utilizing customer feedback

Photo Credit: Kathleen Ahmmed

One of the best sources of innovation in our company often comes from our customers and their experiences with us. It is for this reason that we make it a priority to constantly collect feedback from our clients, and then encourage our staff to read/listen to what they have to say about their overall experience so that they can better understand their pain points. This way, whenever we identify a problem, an opportunity, or even a performance gap within our business, as a team we are able to collectively sit down and come up with something new and innovative.

Thanks to Kathleen Ahmmed, USCarJunker!

#30- Adopt a flat management structure

Photo Credit: Leanna Serras

Rigid workplace hierarchies can kill the creative thinking needed for innovation. Hierarchies encourage employees to be deferential and to wait to be told what to do. This stifles team members and prevents them from reaching their full potential. The most innovative companies are characterized by a flat management approach which breaks down barriers between employees of different levels of seniority. Innovation requires the free movement of ideas across the organization, allowing employees of all levels to make an impact.

Thanks to Leanna Serras, FragranceX!

What are the best ways to innovate your team? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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