We’ve blogged a bit about the kind of culture where change is not feared and where innovation is the status quo. One characteristic of that kind of culture is that ideas are encouraged.
Ideas can be encouraged by making sure there is a continuous feedback and improvement structure in place, that everybody knows how to use. This provides an opportunity for anybody to submit a suggestion. The question is, what happens once the suggestion is submitted — who decides what happens to it. Does it go up the chain of command, does it go to a committee of peers, or does it go through some other process?
A critical element to make sure that people are comfortable opening up and presenting their ideas is that there is a level playing field. If you can set up the feedback loop in a manner that allows for people to feel confident that nobody else gets to just squash their idea, and that management can’t negatively react to any idea, you’ll find people throwing stuff out there. And, if you can also set up the feedback loop so that everybody can see the other ideas that have been generated and allow them to add on to those ideas, you’ve got a great process in place to really support creativity.