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Fostering a culture of innovation: That's a capital idea!

Fostering a culture of innovation: That's a capital idea!

Posted on:  , 
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Innovation is about changing the status quo, tackling the hard problems. It's about learning and about changing. And most importantly, innovation is crucial for any business that wants to succeed.

Dozens of Alberta business owners came together for June's Capital Ideas events in Calgary and Edmonton to share ideas about how to foster a culture of innovation. The monthly Capital Ideas sessions feature a panel of business owners sharing their ideas and engaging an audience of entrepreneurs on a specific topic.

We pulled some ideas from the Capital Ideas events to come up with five steps crucial to fostering a culture of innovation.

  1. Communicate

    If you’ve hired a great team, they should be able to make great decisions. However, they are only as capable as the information you give them. So if you have a great team, trust them with all the information they need, and then let them use it.

    If your team is going to answer the tough questions, you can’t be the only one who knows all the information. Sharing information is really important, because people are smarter than you think they are.

  2. Listen to your customers

    Customers are a great source for finding out what you can improve on. Some of the best opportunities can come from customers who come to you with a problem because chances are, if one customer is having a problem, others may be experiencing it as well. These are opportunities to improve upon an aspect of your product or service that you wouldn’t have even known about beforehand.

  3. Know when to pass on an opportunity

    As tempting as it may be to try, you can’t do everything you want to right off the bat. Sometimes you have to take a step back, evaluate your capacity, and realize that you can’t take on another project. Instead, focus on the projects you’ve already taken on and give them the time and attention they deserve!

  4. Lead by example

    At the end of the day, if you want to foster a culture of innovation, you have to live it. As the head of your business, your employee’s look to you to set the tone. If you’re showing that you’re an innovative leader who is excited by new ideas, your employee’s will take notice.

  5. Avoid creating firm, long term plans

    Planning for the future is obviously critical to a business’s success, but planning too far ahead can be stifling to creativity. Trying to look farther than a year ahead is challenging, especially when you’re just starting out. Things change quickly, and therefore you have to also be able to adapt quickly. Plans won’t always pan out, and trying to stick it out with a plan that’s obsolete is a recipe for disaster. Leave room for flexibility in your business plan so you can thrive in ever changing industries.

Capital Ideas is a monthly event hosted in Edmonton and Calgary that features an interactive panel discussion with some of Alberta’s most innovative and knowledgeable entrepreneurs. Each month, panels in each city tackle one topic relevant to entrepreneurs and small-businesses. These events are excellent opportunities to network with Alberta entrepreneurs, learn insights, and get business advice for some of your most pressing challenges.

To find out more about Capital Ideas, find an event near you, or contribute to the conversation, visit and

Be sure to register for your next local Capital Ideas event “Doing good in the neighbourhood” taking place July 15 in Edmonton and July 30 in Calgary.

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