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3 Ways to Help Innovation Thrive in Your Workplace

Ryder, JoanneBy Joanne Ryder, Executive Vice President, Director of Brand & Strategy, Beneficial Bank

The operating environment for nearly every industry has evolved, where the things that worked 20, 10, or even five years ago don’t necessarily yield success anymore. Thanks to the exponential advances in technology and social media, consumers’ habits are changing, and the demands on everyone’s time and attention are higher than ever before. As consumers’ needs change, we have to change along with them to continue to forge meaningful connections with them.

These three lessons that I’ve learned in evolving the brand at Beneficial Bank can be applied beyond financial services to help find your company’s innovative sweet spot:

1. Think about your industry differently.

It may sound cliché, but you have to challenge the norms of your industry in order to innovate. When you step outside of the typical comfort zone for your field, great ideas can happen.

One of the ways we were able to do that at Beneficial was to take the basic principle of who we are as a brand—an education company, your knowledge bank—and blend that insight with the aesthetic and experience of how people utilize retail spaces today.  We created an experience that was more like banking at a Starbucks, and encouraged our customers to learn more about their finances in our learning libraries via tools like iPads.

Thinking outside your industry’s box can be challenging, but a worthwhile endeavor to be successful today, whether that’s connecting with consumers or building the better mousetrap.

2. Hire outside the box, too.

To think outside the box when it comes to your industry, you need people that can do that same sort of thinking.  In today’s job market, it’s often easy to be prescriptive and hold out for candidates whose experience directly translates to the roles for which you’re recruiting. But if you want to bring in new ideas and perspectives, you have to infuse your teams with talent that can think creatively, regardless of industry or background. And once you have that sort of talent in house, you have to rigorously continue to challenge them with opportunities that will foster development.

3. Create space that fosters innovation.

Steve Jobs obsessed about the design of offices, including the locations of restrooms, so that serendipitous personal encounters could occur throughout the workday.

While you may not be able to build your space from the ground up like Steve Jobs, you can create areas that are conducive to thinking outside the box and breed collaboration. Consider lowering cube walls, or introducing flexible workspace that encourages employees to move around during the day and interact with one another. High top tables, couches and chairs create a seating area just comfortable and different enough to break the 9-to-5 grind and help creativity flow without encroaching on professionalism. Encourage your teams to step away from their desks and take advantage of these spaces. If you build it, the ideas will come.