7 Ways to Drive Innovation in Your Business
Effective communication and a thorough understanding of the innovation process are key to successful innovation. Most business owners – and especially startup entrepreneurs – strive to create innovative businesses, products, services, and work environments for their staff. However, innovation doesn’t seem to be a priority in most organizations today, resulting in anti-innovation cultures.
Yet what is important to understand is that the mechanisms necessary for a business to grow are different from those needed to prevent it from falling. It’s essential to be willing to try some new things and to deal with some uncertainty and ambiguity if you want your business to grow and innovate.
Your business may require some new ways of thinking in order to instill an innovation mindset.
1. Create a dedicated innovation team
It is important to keep in mind that your company may have excellent ideas, but those ideas might not be well communicated. As such, it is important to have an idea-sharing team that can help support and encourages each other. It is possible to make up a team from different parts of the business if your company is unable to afford a dedicated team.
2. Don’t limit everything to efficiency and scale
Businesses of all sizes tend to prioritize efficiency and process over experiments in their management practices. However, to be innovative, one needs to take some risks and try some different things. Naturally, that means some ideas won’t work out. The “failures” prove you have to work hard on things that succeed and will grow your business.
3. Embrace Uncertainty
Innovation is characterized by the uncertainty of nothing. Businesses that innovate successfully often have ambiguity and change as their guiding principles. Learn to live with it and establish a flexible environment that allows for experimentation, exploration, and invention. The goal of achieving near-perfect performance might seem appealing, but growth experiments often produce the opposite. Don’t be too rigid about insisting on a waste-free, efficient execution. The path to innovation can be sloppy, and you may end up killing your best ideas.
4. Create a platform to share ideas
Whether in person or virtually, sharing and generating ideas with employees requires the right platform.
Think about Dell IdeaStorm (www.ideastorm.com), which provides an open platform to submit ideas, vote for them, and comment on them, while HP organizes brown bag lunches to encourage employees to share their ideas.
5. Seek small innovations
When it comes to innovation, sometimes thinking smaller is the best approach. You don’t need a big, audacious idea to create an innovation. In order to maintain momentum, it may be best to set – and achieve – small, proximate efforts and innovations. Many of the innovations in your business are relatively small, incremental changes that are close to your core competencies – whether it is products, services, processes, or all of the above.
It’s okay to build on what has already been done – innovations don’t have to be revolutionary. Think about innovation and do research on different industries, from smart home devices to IoT, machine learning to robots, everything is automation but all have started from small innovations to reach the next level. Startups and small businesses should generate ideas that focus on creating new value for customers. Do not worry about whether you’ve tried it before, if it’s an old idea in a new package or if it’s a technique borrowed from another industry.
6. Encourage collaboration and experimentation
To increase their chances of innovation success, organizations should employ collaborative experimentation. By communicating with stakeholders, we generate new ideas, correct mistakes, address market needs, and accelerate the innovation process.
In the past, Google has made prototypes of products, like Gmail and Google Earth, available to existing users in order to assist in product development.
7. Study Up
Although innovation is inextricably bound up with inspiration, many of the skills necessary to come up with ideas and put them into action are learnable by you or any key employees you might assign to lead the charge. Research suggests that innovators must be proactive about identifying good ideas and innovating them.
8. Be specific in your communication
It is important to let your employees know how the innovation will affect them and what positive outcomes the innovation could bring. For example, employees at PNC Bank were able to tailor their online learning to meet their individual goals by taking courses based on specific job skills. The employee could be able to see how the innovative course offerings were relevant to their work and decide how to spend their time.