Are You Really Innovating?

Innovation is the lifeblood of business today. Look over your shoulder and you’ll see a handful of start-ups, hungry to steal a chunk of your industry with new, inventive and fast-moving solutions.

It’s commonly accepted that, in order to stay in the game, every business needs to embrace innovation. Yet, how can you be sure you’re approaching it the right way – a way that will actively drive your business forward and keep you ahead of the competition?
Here are 6 essential aspects of innovation that need to be addressed in order to ensure your innovation is effective, practical, market-relevant and works as hard as possible to future-proof your business:
1. Remember, its people that innovate, not businesses

Starting with the boardroom, does your executive board have the right mix to empower and support people throughout the company to innovate, be customer orientated, digitized, whilst adding a touch of crazy, out of the box thinking? Look to disrupt and challenge your own industry with positive customer experience solutions that provide additional value dimensions to what you already have. Find and promote the best people to your board, in your management and throughout your company to drive positive innovation, change, transformation on behalf of existing and new customers as well as employees.

2. Innovation can’t be a one-off event

Brainstorming sessions or ideas platforms are a great way of introducing innovative ideas into your business, but leaving single concepts on the table, or even assigning a single person to develop a concept, product or service stifles necessary process innovation required. Very rarely are great innovations directly developed from a single idea. They require time, development and the input of a variety of areas of expertise to truly become a product of value. Take time to nurture great concepts, develop a clear process for development and involve as many fields of expertise as possible to aid their development.

3. Don’t make innovation everyone’s job

If you believe that innovation is everyone’s job, it’s effectively no one’s. Of course, you will find a handful of companies where every employee is a keen innovator, but it’s simply not the case for the majority of businesses. Innovation is a process, often complex. It requires a designated individual to manage and focus entirely on this process. Give them a specific role description and measure their performance against it.

4. Be open to collaboration

In the same way that you cannot rely upon one particular internal department to develop innovation, you can’t always guarantee the expertise required for certain elements lies within your company’s skills base at all. Don’t hold on tightly to innovation and stifle it. Leverage all the brains, including the ones outside your business. Be prepared to collaborate and partner with other businesses to help realize your innovation’s full potential.

5. Prepare to adapt your business models

Disruptive innovation, but its very nature, rarely fits into existing businesses models. In order to allow the time and money required to develop innovation – and also to be able to see the value they create, you need to be prepared to adapt your business model to allow for them and the changes they’ll bring to your existing operations.

6. Don’t fall into the ‘Safe bet’ trap

The key to innovation is to deliver those innovations to your market. To achieve this you need to be brave. It’s tempting to fall in to the ‘safe bet’ trap – slightly adjusting your existing products, remaining within a predictable and safe space whilst claiming you’re practicing innovation. Take calculated risks. Believe in your own innovation and do not be afraid to bring it in all its disruptive glory to the market.


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