Here at Dunham+Company, we have a set of core values we call ‘The Dunham Way.’ One of those values is this: We’re committed to innovation.
Nils Smith and I recently unpacked a few ways to inspire innovation on The Dunham Podcast…
Nils, I think the fear of failure is keeping some organizations from reaching their highest and best, and taking significant steps forward. When it comes to innovation, we have to be able to take risks.
Nils: That’s so true. But people have to feel like they have the space to do that. Trent, how would you encourage leaders to enable their team to be more innovative?
Trent: As a leader, the success of your organization can’t be about you. Sometimes leaders will err on the side of wanting to get all the credit.
To me, the credit comes in creating a successful organization that accomplishes the goals set before it, not in being the one with all the ideas. Start with that perspective.
Secondly, how do you enable and empower your team to have a voice?
How do you give them on-ramps for opportunities in the casual day to day? How do you encourage ideas and eliminate hesitancy to share for fear of being called out because of a bad idea? These are important questions.
Nils: Yes. And I also believe your physical space makes a big difference when it comes to innovation. When you have a stale physical environment or everyone secluded in an office, you suppress innovation. One of the reasons clients love coming to our office is because it’s energizing. You hear the buzz of the open office environment. And even in most of the private rooms, there are dry erase walls. It’s a physical environment that enhances innovation.
Trent: Relationship is the currency of the internal team. And you foster a relationship by creating opportunities for the break room conversation. These conversations create an environment that fosters trust. And therefore, you’re more willing to take a risk because there is a relationship.
Think about it. What is the everyday flow and lifeblood of your organization? What is it like to be there from day to day? Does the leadership ever come out of their office? Do they walk around and talk to people? Do they make comments and engage with how people are doing? Are there inside jokes within the organization?
Those factors create a willingness to go places people might not otherwise be willing to go. In fact, here at D+C we have someone whose primary job is focused on our company culture. I believe it’s that valuable.
Nils: And in the end, we should never be okay with the status quo. It’s exciting to know that wherever we are right now, God has more for us. This isn’t it. And so we’re going to keep pressing forward and looking at what opportunities are ahead.
I’m curious, Trent, for nonprofit organizations, is there one area that you think nonprofits need to lean into from an innovation standpoint?
Trent: Every organization is distributing some kind of content. Should you be introducing new types of content that you’re distributing that are core to your mission? Are you distributing that content through the right channels? Have you been doing the same thing on the same platform since 1973 and you’ve never tested a different one?
Are you satisfied with what is, or are you willing to test something new where data is saying people are engaging? Every single organization in the world could have that conversation internally. Innovation is not just starting something new; innovation is putting something to death that doesn’t work.
And too often organizations would rather perpetuate something that doesn’t work because it saves someone’s job. Or because of a certain small segment of people that really love it. When something has limited impact and is not accomplishing your organizational goals, honor it then put it to rest.
All in all, how are you evaluating the effectiveness of what you’re doing? Do you have the data to tell you it is effective or not?
If you’re ready to innovate, you have to be willing to have these conversations.
For more insight into Innovation and to hear the full conversation, check out The Dunham Podcast episode, Accomplish Your Goals through Innovation with Nils Smith.
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