To really drive sales growth, you’ll need to rely on your team members to be innovative. If you can inspire your employees to think innovatively and help them nurture creative suggestions from concept to product, your company is likely to achieve a growth rate of at least 15%. In many companies, closing the gap between innovative ideas and their business implementation proves difficult. PcW analysts tackle this topic in their 2017 Innovation Benchmark Findings report.

Back in the day, companies relegated product innovation and design to the research and development team. Today, forward-thinking leaders are engaging in new types of collaboration:

  • Open innovation 61%
  • Design thinking 59%
  • Co-creating with customers, partners and suppliers 55%

Over half of businesses, 54%, get some of their best ideas from customers. This strategy makes sense as users are often closest to products and know the kinds of improvements and changes they’d like to see.

The most successful companies point out that internal employees (60%) make a huge difference. Leaders at the companies surveyed by PcW for this report point out that innovation teams should include employees, across the board, in brainstorming and development sessions. While some employees will bring the right technical expertise to the table, others will have ‘end-user insight.’ It turns out that including a cross-section of employees in innovation work is more easily discussed than carried out.

At least 37% of businesses know they have a leadership problem, one that stifles innovation. Letting go of the chain of command to allow for more fluid team building is key. The established mindset in a company might frown on lower-level employees who step up with fresh ideas and new ways of thinking. This mindset can be especially challenging for new employees who come to the table with a different perspective.

Instead of giving new or new-thinking employees the “not-invented-here” immune response, welcome their ideas. Encourage your managers to solicit new ideas or hold round table ‘innovation’ lunches to break out of the mold. This change in culture will encourage innovative thinking and will ultimately lead to developing products that will bring bigger sales increases.