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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Accelerate Growth and Innovation – Encourage a Culture of Risk-Taking

Written by  Duane Bailey

Does your organization encourage risk-taking? If not, how can you create a risk-friendly culture, especially in these tough times?

If you’re looking to accelerate growth and innovation, you need to encourage risk-taking. Risk-taking enables creativity, which drives innovation. As Edwin Land, the co-founder of Polaroid Corporation, once observed, “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Founded during the Great Depression on his belief that consumer markets should be created around scientific research, his company was once the world leader in instant photography – largely due to the commercial success of ground-breaking innovations like the Polaroid SX-70 camera, which was introduced in 1972. The camera was an instant success, garnering year-over-year sales growth of 20% within the first few years of its commercial launch.

If you’re looking to accelerate growth, you need to find ways to innovate – your products, your services and even your customer experience. Encourage the risk-taking needed to enable creativity in your organization. Let your employees know it’s ok to fail once in a while. After all, as The Chief Storyteller®, Ira Koretsky, once told me, “You’re not going to hit a home run every time.”

Here are some ways you can encourage a culture of risk-taking, creativity and innovation in your organization:
1. Embrace a perspective that views mistakes as opportunities for learning, rather than failures.
2. Encourage your employees to follow their passions and to think outside the box.
3. Tell your employees what you want, not how to do it…and recognize there are many “right” ways to achieve the desired result.
4. Encourage collaboration through the open sharing of others’ ideas.
5. Recognize and reward your employees for doing something right.

And finally, on a personal note, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the Polaroid SX-70 camera my dad had when I was growing up. That camera (and the big square case it came in) was an endearing presence during Bailey family holidays and vacations for many years.  Thank you, Mr. Land, for providing us with an innovation that allowed us to preserve our fondest an instant.   

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey is a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller® online conversation. He has helped organizations of all sizes drive growth in revenues and market share through the development and delivery of key business messages that resonate with target audiences. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BS in Marketing. He brings 28 years of experience in marketing communications and high technology sales.

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