Marissa Mayer's strategic plan for innovation at Yahoo! has been to acquire 20 start-ups in just over a year. Sometimes she did this to acquire technology and sometimes it was the people behind the tech that caught her eye.
Your small business may not have the assets that Yahoo! has to "Innovate through Acquisition" but that doesn't mean you should just forget about innovative thinking entirely.
How can your business innovate like Melissa Mayer?
1. Acquire New Blood
One way to acquire innovative ideas and skills is to invest in people. Hiring someone new to be a part of a group that has worked together for a long time may be a great way to raise the bar.
When looking for someone to add to your staff, set your sights high and look for someone that is driven and creative--no matter if they are a programmer or a customer service rep. Exceptional people are out there! You just need to actively find them.
2. Invest in Your Employees
When was the last time you sprung for the sales team to attend a leadership seminar? Or funded your IT team to attend a conference? Nothing gets people fired up more than spending time with innovative thinkers. When was the last time you made that possible for your team?
Exceptional conferences and dynamic events are out there! You need to actively find them! (noticing a trend?)
3. Break the Mold
Staff development seems like a running joke. Team building and trust exercises might be your thing, but your staff probably isn't looking for something along those lines. How about taking your team to a movie? Or buying everyone lunch--and then enjoying lunch together as a team.
Friend your employees on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to see what their interests are and then foster those interests. Maybe a bunch of them like zombie movies. Maybe a family picnic is more their style. Whatever it is, seek out an opportunity to thank your employees for their dedication and hard work. You'd be surprised how different Monday morning will be.
4. Become an Active Listener
While you may be the CEO of your small business, your faithful employees probably have valuable ideas of their own. One of the most difficult things for a business owner to do is to keep their opinions and justifications to themselves while employees are talking about their desires, dreams and visions for your company. After all, the company is your baby, we get that. But you're all bringing up baby together. Often, the best results come from collaboration.
Ideas, opinions, and dreams can be explored and it doesn't mean your business won't be the same anymore. Dare to listen to your staff. The results just may surprise you.
5. Go Outside
When working on your business and brand is a full-time job, sometimes, it can blur your view of things. Nothing helps clear vision like an outsider's point of view. You see the same walls, the same signage, the same processes everyday and may overlook them all. But, to an outsider, everything is new. They may help you to see inconsistencies in your product, your service or your brand. Seek out outsiders and welcome their ideas.
Marissa Mayer's innovative thinking is really shaking things up for Yahoo! Innovative thinking can really help your business to succeed. Are you ready to take the plunge? We'd love to hear about it on our Facebook page.