One of the keys to success in engineering is innovation. Software engineers are expected to be innovative but creating an energetic environment that spurs creativity and fosters innovation is harder than it looks. Here are some keys to foster innovation in engineering.
Take Advantage of the Diversity of Your Team
While you may have go-to designers you trust to come up with creative ideas, you will have more success if you take advantage of all your employees and their individual strengths. Give all your team members the opportunity to come up with prototypes. You will be surprised what some of your employees will produce. Developing cross-functional teams is also helpful. When people with diverse skills and backgrounds put their heads together, they can generate ideas that are truly one-of-a-kind.
Encourage Your Team to Question and Observe
Innovation often starts with an observation or a question. This is how people identify problems and begin to think about possible solutions to those problems. Urge your team to ask basic questions, such as: “Why? What if? How can this be better? and What would I change?” Meanwhile, they should observe the organization and the environment around them. This will allow them to identify what in the organization works, what doesn’t work, and what can be improved. These types of observations can trigger surprising innovation.
Give Them Time to Brainstorm
Being too busy and overworked can stifle creativity. Your team needs built-in free time where they have time to just think and brainstorm ideas. This can include break times but also vacation time. Most people do their best thinking when they are relaxed, and their stress-levels are under control. You want to encourage your team to reflect and expand their thinking.
Allow Your Employees to Push Themselves
People are usually most innovative when they step outside of their comfort zones. Encourage your team members to take risks, give them challenging goals that will force them to come up with creative solutions, or give them a task they have never done before.
Provide Your Team with the Necessary Tools and Resources
Your team needs up-to-date hardware and software to be their most innovative. Use survey tools to allow for more collaborative idea generation and decision making. It is also a good idea to use the local resources you might have. For example, if there are major institutions or universities nearby, you can collaborate with them on next generation applications.
Engineering is a fast-moving industry. Without constant innovation, your company will fall behind. To foster consistent innovation, encourage your team members to question, observe, and think, give them time and space to brainstorm, and give them opportunities to collaborate with each other. Together, you can create an environment that keeps the creative juices flowing.
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