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A Culture of Innovation Starts at the Top

Steve Epner, President — the Startup Within

• distribution management best practices • management strategies • distribution industry sales management • personnel development • leadership training • Innovate for the Future • Simplfy Everything book • innovation

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A Culture of Innovation Starts at the Top

In this video, Randy MacLean talks with Steve Epner, President of The Startup Within, about best practices for integrating innovation into your business. Managers can and should encourage employees in innovating new ways of doing what you already do that are better for the company and especially better for the customer.

Diverging and Converging

Innovation can be a great tool for solving problems. The most effective way to find innovative solutions is to think outside the box by eliminating constraints. Remove time constraints. Remove cost and people constraints, and brainstorm solutions from there. The answers may seem wild and unrealistic. However, the next step of converging allows you to take those ideas and investigate how you might implement or tweak them and develop innovative solutions.

Who has the Answers?

It's common to think that managers are supposed to have the right answers all the time, but this is a trap. By admitting you don't have all the right answers, you help create a culture of innovation. People on the front lines often know more than managers, and with this mindset, your team will feel more free to come up with innovations.

Part of your job as a leader is to ask how things can be made better and improved. You can enhance and build upon an idea to bring out innovation from your people. Work with them to feel confident in presenting new ideas.

Don't forget, the principle role of a manager is to improve the business, which means improving the people. Managers should be actively growing the next generation of leaders, essentially training their own replacements. Then, they themselves can move up to higher level positions.

Don't Train People to be Afraid to Make Decisions

People on the line have the answers. So, it makes sense that top managers should let go of some decision making. Don't teach your people to bring all the decisions to you without doing work themselves. Coach them in to making decisions by asking questions such as,

•What have you tried?

•What do you recommend?

As a manager, your job is to encourage them, to help them grow, and to trust your people in order to grow your company.

For more information about Steve Epner, visit: www.thestartupwithin.com