Innovation takes time. Many businesses are facing the same challenge, over and over again: making time for innovation. How long does it take to come up with truly innovative idea? Can you put together a team in a week and expect them to deliver awesome solutions for your business? When you don't understand the importance of time to innovation, you can significantly decrease your chances of success. Creativity can be lost in your company because there is no time for people to come up with and act on new ideas.

Somehow, magically, some employers expect employees to not only generate business-changing ideas in their spare time, but do all the research, idea experimentation and development in between their other responsibilities. You won't get innovative ideas like that. Stop expecting quick wins, instead, start building structures and systems that will enable your business to succeed over the long term. Innovation is an important driver of progress, give it the right time it deserves.

People need time, sometimes lots of it to think, research and test ideas. Reward employees with time to think. Employees also need to be trained and supported with resources when you make time for them to come up with innovative solutions.

To innovate successfully, you must understand the role of time

Employees who are put in charge of innovative teams can sometimes feel overwhelmed and stressed when they have to combine their daily assignments with other innovation duties. And that can stifle their creative process.

Aspiring innovators in your business don't need to be pushed to find break-through ideas. What they need is TIME. Time to think, plan, brainstorm and research. Time to collaborate with others to assess ideas and test them.

Don't tell people to find time, make time for them to work on what could be the most important idea for your business. It matters that you create time for the innovation process. If you are serious about driving innovation, you need to start putting the right structures in place to support innovation.

Time to innovate is time invested

You are not wasting time if you allocate resources, people and enough time to the innovation process. Treat it as time invested. People can't innovate on command. You may not be able to set aside a month to devote to innovation, but your innovation team will value the time you allocate for their "idea generation process". You could consider setting aside a Friday afternoon or a full day on a regular basis for them to work on their ideas.

In an interview with McKinsey & Company about how big companies innovate, Intuit's co-founder, Scott Cook once said:

"....we put in a series of systems and a culture where the expectation is that if there's an idea that someone's passionate about, we put in a system to make it easy and fast and cheap for them to run an experiment."

Freedom won't necessarily lead to waste of resources

Many employers are afraid of given away too much time to employees because they could abuse it or even waste it on unnecessary activities that may amount to nothing. If you've hired the right and smart people, trust them enough to use their time wisely to help build the business.

Nobody can promise you breakthrough ideas in a week, a month or even a whole year, but the freedom you give away can deliver that innovative product your business needs to survive.

Freedom won't lead to anarchy. It wins the trust of your employees. People can do better when they know their employers trust them enough to give them enough time to freely work on what could be promising for the future of the company. Freedom is a great motivator.

Innovative employees need the freedom to choose. Freedom to explore and experiment. Freedom to express themselves. And even the freedom to "fail." Yes, they can fail. There are no guarantees when you are exploring opportunities for growth.

No matter how you choose to encourage innovation at work, it will require an investment of time. Innovation isn't easy but it's one of the basic fundamentals for a successful business.

Published on: Aug 22, 2016