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Porter Leslie Featured in WorkCompWire’s Leaders Speak: 3 Incredibly Simple Ways to Be Innovative

3 Incredibly Simple Ways to Be Innovative

Workers compensation is an industry ripe for innovation. And, while some may see a sector that is slow to evolve, there are green shoots of modernization across the industry. In addition, quite a few high-tech, innovative companies are devising ways to improve or even leapfrog archaic processes altogether.

Incorporating new technologies and innovating is not something that happens overnight. It is situational; it is in the details; it’s the result of hard work and baby steps toward a big goal.

For those looking to disrupt the status quo and propel their companies forward, here are three essential tips for fostering innovation:

1. Empower smart people that have the confidence to fail repeatedly

An innovation team needs to reward original thoughts but also be bold enough to challenge each other. Finding the right folks and building a cohesive team can take time. At Ametros, the leaders of our innovation team each worked previously at multiple startups – some successes and failures. When I asked them, what was most important driver of innovation, they shared “it all boils down to our people” and “our team’s ability to fail fast.”

Companies can tend to staff existing employees on large change projects out of convenience, but this may be a bad fit for their skills/personalities and lead to a poor outcome. Dedicate time to make sure you’ve got the right resources assigned. Sometimes the best professionals are employed elsewhere or in other industries or geographies. Consider creating teams that work remotely and fostering collaboration online with tools like Slack and Sococo.

Failure is an option. A redeeming quality for an innovation team is to appreciate failure. Celebrate the team’s commitment to an idea even if ultimately it didn’t work out. The goal is to share your ideas because you never know when a small idea can have a big impact. It reminds me of the simple lesson of one of my favorite children’s books: “What Do You Do with an Idea” by Kobi Yamada. I’ll sometimes share it with new members of our team.

2. See the BIG PICTURE. Don’t linger on the exceptions.

If you home in on the solution first, then you can match the tech to fit. Inspiration for new solutions can be grown out of hard work and trial/error. They can also be found in other industries. Step back from the specialization of workers compensation and often other industries provide a nice roadmap of where to go next. For example, paying attention to travel/hospitality companies in how they cater to individuals may provide examples of practices to put in place to cater to injured workers.

For any great idea, there is going to be an exception or limitation that will happen a small fraction of the time that will create a problem. To move forward, it’s important for the team to have perspective of which issues are significant in contrast to issues that are so small that they can be dealt with later; in other words, it’s helpful to “see the forest for the trees.”

Sometimes the most frustrating part of new product development or making a change is to accept that you can’t examine every detail and see all the possible outcomes. You will only have limited perspective initially. There are going to be questions you can’t answer and some things that will go wrong. You need to “live it” and pilot the project and get input through iterations.

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