You need to strike a balance between encouraging innovation and pursuing projects that are going to be profitable. Now's not the time for high risk or stray projects. The trick is to not stifle new ideas. Show your appreciation for any effort that's made to improve the business.
Those you can't focus on now, you may be able to revisit in more prosperous times.Empower your team - give them an entrepreneurial license - but keep a tight reign on the approval of projects. You can do this successully by appointing a task team for each initiative you decide to pursue. This will also ensure projects actually happen, once approved.Here's what each project team should consist of:
* The product/project champion: This person is often the "inventor" or originator of the idea. He'll ensure there aren't any unecessary delays. But he may not see faults in his "baby", he'll more likely have a blinkered approach to the project. He'll actively lead the team especially in the initial phases.* The enabler: This is someone who can get things done, cut red tape and barge through inaction and lethargy - for the entire project duration. Enablers tend to badger the other members.
* The devil's advocate: He keeps the team's feet on the ground and plays 'what if...' Devil's advocates look for potential problems.* The gatekeeper: He is the arbiter who ensures "fair play" and keeps the other members to the rules. This is so doable. Even if you're running a tight ship as most of us are.
So get started today. Get your team excited about being heard. Encourage them to keep their ears to the ground for ideas that can transform your business.