Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful business. It’s essential because you have to stay ahead of the competition by developing new products or services, all with the goal of staying one step ahead in the market. Innovation has also become more vital than ever because of a change in the way people think and buy. In the ‘old days’ it was enough for a business to simply be reliable and to provide good customer service, but today, there is always someone wanting to steal your company’s ’emperors clothes’. In short, today, the only way to survive is to innovate.
But how do you make innovation happen? What tips and strategies can you use to ensure your innovation efforts are successful? In this article, we’ll explore the concept of innovation, the benefits of innovation and provide tips and strategies for making innovation happen.
What is Innovation?
Innovation is the process of introducing something new. It is the development of ideas, products, services, and processes that are different from what currently exists. It is an essential aspect of business strategy and can be a powerful tool for staying ahead of the competition and increasing profits.
Innovation can be divided into two categories: disruptive innovation and incremental innovation. Disruptive innovation refers to the introduction of something new that disrupts the existing market and creates a totally new one. Examples of disruptive innovations include the introduction of the iPhone, which disrupted the mobile phone market and created one where the customers wanted a totally different experience, and the introduction of the personal computer, which disrupted the typewriter market and created a market for a machine that was capable of so much more than the simple typewriter.
Incremental innovation, on the other hand, is the introduction of something new that improves upon existing products and processes. Examples of incremental innovations include improvements to existing products, such as the introduction of the iPhone 6s with faster processor speeds and better battery life, and improvements to existing processes, such as the introduction of automated customer checkout tills in a supermarket.
Different Types of Innovation
There are several different types of innovation. These include product innovation, process innovation, business model innovation, marketing innovation, and organisational innovation. Product innovation involves introducing new products or services, while process innovation involves improving existing processes. Business model innovation involves introducing new business models, such as subscription services, while marketing innovation involves introducing new marketing strategies and tactics. Organisational innovation involves introducing new organisational structures, such as flat hierarchies, as well as the introduction of new management techniques, such as agile project management.
Making Innovation Happen: Tips and Strategies
Admit to Fear and the Risk of Failure
One of the biggest barriers companies face is the fear of failure. The only real way to remove this barrier is to face it head-on, placing it in the open for all to see. From top to bottom, from the managing director to the team dealing with the customers, it is necessary to create a dialogue that deals with the issue of fear head-on, whilst also demystifying the process of risk-taking and how it can be used in a way that is aligned with the businesses culture and goals.
Allow everyone to make suggestions by creating a safe space or process
As mentioned above it is essential to remove the fear factor, in essence by allowing for a ‘culture of failure’ to exist without any penalties being handed out. Basically, this is an acknowledgement that any ‘failure’ is actually a way of finding out what does not work, so you can remove it from any future plans.
Here are some useful tips and ideas
- Foster an environment of creativity and experimentation: Innovation requires creativity, so it’s important to create an environment that encourages creativity and experimentation. This means giving employees the freedom to explore new ideas and offering incentives for successful innovations.
- Let your employee’s imaginations run wild. Facilitated brainstorming sessions are one of the best methodologies here, and remember, nothing is a silly idea, so make sure everyone participating understands this crucial point.
- Encourage collaboration: Innovation requires collaboration between different departments, so it’s important to encourage the teams in your organisation to work together, to bounce ideas off each other etc. This means creating a culture of cooperation and a shared understanding of the goal.
- Encourage risk-taking: Innovation also requires risk-taking, so it’s essential to create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks. This means building a culture of experimentation and rewarding successful innovations.
- Utilise data: Data is an invaluable tool for innovation, so it’s important to utilise data when making decisions. This means using data to identify customer needs, trends, and opportunities for innovation.
- Utilise feedback: Feedback is also an essential part of the innovation process, so it’s important to solicit and utilise feedback from customers and other stakeholders. This entails the creation of feedback loops and also using customer feedback to inform decisions.
- Utilise technology: Technology can be a powerful tool for making innovation happen, so it’s important to utilise technology to facilitate innovation. This means introducing new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to help identify customer needs and trends.
The difference between an interesting idea and an innovation?
One problem that using the tips laid out above is that you can have too many ideas to consider. If this happens, all you need to do is to ask one simple question.
‘Will implementing the idea have an impact on the company’s bottom line?’
This is an important test to run in every case as when you really think about it, If the organisation’s customers don’t appreciate the idea, then implementing does not make sense in the end.
As ever, Training is the Key
Everybody has a number of inbuilt talents, but the ability to make innovation happen in an organisation is rarely one of them. Therefore, if you want to create an environment that will allow innovation (and, therefore your business) to flourish, you need to give your leadership team the tools to do the job.
And there is no better way to train anyone than placing them in a simulation, a place where they can see what happens when they do A or B, about how to act and react, all in a safe place where no one can get hurt.
And when it comes to the best company to turn to for such a business simulation, there is one that stands out from the rest, and that is Prendo. Over the last 2 decades, they have trained tens of thousands of company employees and leaders from companies across the globe, using simulations to improve performance and reduce the risk of failure in a wide range of vital business functions.
For more information on making innovation happen in your business, see https://www.prendo.com/leadership-challenges/making-innovation-happen/