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Sparking Bright Ideas

Seeking company innovation? Look to your staff for collaboration.

This story appears in the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every employee in your company can be a valuable innovator, says David Silverstein, innovation expert and president of Breakthrough Management Group, a performance consulting company in Longmont, Colorado. Contrary to popular belief, says Silverstein, "Innovation needs to be predictable, reliable and repeatable." By creating a culture that encourages innovation and sets particular goals in place, entrepreneurs can train employees to be systematic innovators.

First, business owners must set personal egos aside, says Silverstein. "It's too egotistical to think that you alone hold the key to all future innovations." In order to open the floodgates to innovative ideas from employees, you must eliminate any type of penalty or judgment for a perceived bad idea. "Innovation, by its very nature, is risk taking and experimentation," says Silverstein. "People have to be free to offer up ideas; we have to take the stigma away [from] offering up bad ideas."

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