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4 Ways To Drive Innovation In The Startup Workplace

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Techniques for inviting ideas and innovation to your workplace.

By Sarah Wood (Co-Founder & COO, Unruly Media)

Within a busy startup environment it’s not always easy to give people the space they need to clear their heads. When there are so many immediate needs to be met – integrating new staff, delighting new clients and incorporating new product developments – it can be hard for staff get into a creative mindset.

At Unruly, we’ve developed several very simple, but extremely effective techniques that any startup can implement to help encourage creativity without slowing down productivity. So, how do we do it?

1.) Places to Think

Carving out unconventional spaces within the office and within people’s busy schedules encourages creativity and problem solving. For instance, the kitchen table at Unruly is where we cook up most of our most imaginative ideas. Since the space is naturally less “business” focused, it helps employees drop their guard and really enjoy the creative process.

2.) Games

Games can be the catalyst for raising energy levels, relaxing the mind or igniting creative sparks in the most unlikely places. For example, at company-wide meetings, we use games to help foster industry knowledge, such as playing product roulette. Games can inject a sense of play and randomness into proceedings.

3.) Crowd-source

It’s unrealistic to expect an individual person or even an individual team to drive innovation across an entire company. Fostering a collaborative, crowd-sourced, all-hands-on-deck approach is far more effective. It’s a lot more fun coming up with daft competitions, deep-dive innovation labs and exploratory product pioneer programmes that engage the whole company in contributing and developing new ideas.

4.) Shared Responsibility

At our company, it’s imperative that every staff member feels a shared responsibility for driving innovation and has the opportunity to voice their suggestions. We encourage employees at all levels to write development stories, which are then considered at regular product planning games.

We have a great deal of expertise and experience in the industry but sometimes it’s the freshest pairs of eyes that generate a new way of tackling a project. It’s not unusual for new employees to find their stories discussed, approved and released before they’ve received their first paycheck.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

Photo credit: Turnstone.

About the guest blogger: Sarah Wood is co-founder and COO of Unruly Media, the global technology platform for social video advertising. Unruly has delivered, tracked and audited over 1.34 billion video views and executed over 1,400 social video campaigns for global brands and agencies including T-Mobile, Evian, Old Spice and Coca Cola. Sarah was recently voted UK Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and was included among Inc’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech. Follow her on Twitter at @SarahFWood.