How to Be Innovative: Tips for Companies and Individuals


I recently shared a post about the meaning of the word “innovation.” At its core, innovation is the product of thinking differently and aspiring to be transformational, not new. With that knowledge in hand, how then do companies and individuals create environments where innovation can spark? At Intermountain Innovations, my business development colleagues and I brainstormed answers to that very question and came up with these tips on how to be more innovative as a company and as individuals.

As a Company, Invest in What Is Necessary for Innovation

Encouraging innovation within an organization takes investment, specifically in the form of designated time and resources. We need to allow employees the freedom to reserve time for exploration and development of their own value-add projects. I love how my colleague Ben Sokolow, Director of Information Systems Commercialization at Intermountain Healthcare, put it. “Allow playtime,” says Sokolow, “for that leads to transformational ‘new-how,’ which ultimately becomes know-how within your organization.”  

Innovative companies encourage their workforce to rethink how things are currently being done and to challenge the status quo. They bring employees from different parts of their organization together to learn something new from each other. This type of collaboration facilitates out-of-the-box thinking that is necessary for innovation. Innovative companies don’t just support innovation on a theoretical basis, they provide financial support and other resources to help ideas progress toward reality.

As an Individual, Seek New Inspiration and Think Big Picture

Companies may create environments that are conducive to innovation, but it is the responsibility of each individual to be ready to let the ideas flow. My team recommended two things that may help an individual be more innovative: 1) get out of your own day-to-day and expose yourself to something new, and 2) think big picture.

Routines are great for increasing efficiency in our daily lives, but mixing things up is also essential. Here are some things you can try:

  • Challenge yourself to read about fields that are unrelated to your own work
  • Take time to network with people from different industries
  • Distract and detach yourself from the task at hand, then reengage with fresh eyes
  • Cast a wide net for inspiration

You never know what connections your brain will make. An idea for the next big innovation in healthcare might just come after reading a National Geographic article on deep sea oceanography.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture is key too. It is easy to get caught up in the details of a project and forget to breathe the fresh air that only exists when you look at a project from far above. Dedicating time to thinking can help you see the big picture and reveal insights that are invisible on a small scale. This new view allows you the freedom to take an innovative idea to the next level.