Companies should penalize employees for their inaction, not for their failures

celebrate failureHow can you boost innovation in your business? Penalize inaction, and celebrate failure.

Successful creatives are not afraid of mistakes or failure: they know that good ideas often arise from tireless experimentation and a chain of failed attempts. People who avoid mistakes and failures suffocate all potential innovation. Unmindful of this, many companies punish their employees for making mistakes, and thus inadvertently create an environment where people just try to conform rather than experiment.

Hence, companies that are driven to be innovative need the right incentive system. Employees should be encouraged to take creative risks and put themselves to the test. In other words, they should feel confident enough to fail – and not be punished for making mistakes.

A company should reward its employees for their successes and failures alike. At any rate, failures should at least be tolerated because they make up a key stage of the creative process. People who are always working on new things are bound to fail often.

But one thing that shouldn’t be tolerated is inaction: people who don’t take risks or try new things will not bring about innovation within the company. Given that the likelihood of new developments increases in relation to the amount of output, and that it’s hard to say in advance which ideas will be successful, quantity is your surest bet to guarantee innovation.

That’s why companies should try to avoid falling into the “smart-talk trap.” Sometimes people are perceived as being competent because they sound smart but they never actually take risks themselves and instead criticize other people’s ideas. They usually don’t contribute anything but hot air, and this type of inaction should be penalized and strongly discouraged.

Bottom line: There is a reason the brightest minds want to work at innovative companies, their creative firepower is embraced without any retribution if some ideas don’t work. Innovative businesses celebrate learning, not doing more of the same.