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The challenge within the sweeping industry today is successfully igniting the passions of innovation while remaining focused on delivering the operational excellence required to sustain a company.

There is no compromise in keeping the operation running effectively and efficiently, so how do you integrate a focus on innovation without jeopardizing the emphasis you’ve placed on building quality sweepers?

When you’re thinking about creating a focus on innovation for your company, it is wise to ask yourself the following questions:

• How do I organize to deliver innovation?
• What talent do I need and do I have it today?
• Is our culture able to not only giving birth to innovative ideas but also nurturing them to success?

Organize

How to organize for innovation can be assessed from the perspective of what part of the team you are charging with delivering the innovation and how much time you are asking them to spend on it.

Commonly, companies take two paths. The first entails challenging all members of the team to deliver innovative ideas and commit 10 to 20 percent of their time driving it. The other approach involves dedicating a dedicated team 100 percent of the time.

Both have their pros and cons, but generally, the best approach is to start with the first scenario to get the team members trained and conditioned around the expectations, challenges, and potential of delivering innovation. When done right, you’re able to get a read on the real capabilities of the team. Then, you can evolve into scenario two. At this point, you’ve seen who are the champions that can think, act, and deliver on the mission. And you’ll have a better idea what talent gaps you’ll have to fill through hiring.

Talent

Conduct a critical assessment of the talents in your company and their ability to innovate. Give team members an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to think or create nonlinearly. Their current job is most likely routine, constrains them to think in linear, logical patterns and fails to inspire creativity or innovation. And don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit by moving people around, entrusting them to work on special projects. This will help you assess their broader skill set.

Culture

Why culture? Mainly because any good harvest requires the right combination of rain, sun, and soil. The absence of any of these three factors can hinder the growth of even the best seeds! It’s important to assess your company’s culture against the requirements to achieve good innovation.

Many companies have to isolate, incubate, or create new environments or departments to ensure they can formulate the right factors to encourage creativity and innovation. This is the hardest to do when it comes to balancing between innovation and day-to-day operations because you do not want to separate it from the core business. And while your initial reaction will be to hold this “special project” close to giving it all the support and money it needs for success, often it just needs room to spread its wings and grow.

Every team member needs to be charged with knowing the business and the challenges the company is trying to solve. It is imperative that the team learns firsthand the voice of the customer, as well as what creates value in the industry. The team has to feel inspired to work on a solution that addresses a need and empowered to experiment and create prototypes to fill those needs.

And most importantly, you want their efforts to be visible to their peers and leadership. If the team has to ask for permission to innovate, then your company has already failed innovation. Identifying the right team to cut loose on innovation is going to produce the change every company needs.

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