Find innovation within your organization
Sometimes I hear business leaders say they struggle with brining innovation into their companies. Asked what they mean, they mostly refer to innovation as reinventing the products or services their companies offer, or even coming up with completely new solutions. If this is their definition of innovation, then I have to agree, creating a brand-new technology or product does not happen often.
But I find this definition of innovation to be too limiting: innovation is not about coming up with a new technology, it is about doing things in a way they have never been done before and getter a better outcome than before. This could mean creating a new technology but might just as well be enhancing your existing product in such a way that it increases the user experience, making it unique and standing out in the market. Combining existing technologies and building a new application out of these (think passenger transport + smart phone app = Uber) is also a form of innovation. Furthermore, remodeling your operating processes, resetting your organizational structure, or reworking your business model, can be innovative as well, as Dell Computers demonstrated in the ‘90s by starting to sell computers directly to consumers, 1st over the phone and then via the internet, taking them to the #1 spot in the world of computer manufacturers.
These types of innovation do not have to take much time in development or cost loads of money in adjusting the production facilities, these can be done quickly and in a few simple steps, yet can generate significant gains in efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
It all starts with creating a culture of innovation and action-taking in the organization. The organization should incentivize its staff to be thinking about ideas & ways to improve the business and create an atmosphere in which employees are able to freely share and communicate these ideas. These ideas need to be captured, and there are many tools that can be used for this, going from the old-fashioned “idea box” in the lunchroom to mobile apps (such as Slack for example). Regular evaluation of ideas must happen as well, and small-scale or theoretical experiments should be run to validate their effectiveness. If possible, a trial roll-out of the new product feature, process flow, or organization structure is to be considered, preferably in an A/B testing format, comparing the new with the existing situation to determine actual gains. When improvements in efficiency, productivity and/or profitability are demonstrated, the new idea can be implemented across the organization.
For this to be successful, the company culture must be open to continuous innovation. This means the organization always looks for ways to improve but is also open to new ideas to be communicated, to be tested and to be implemented. Ideas need to be acted upon, not just collected. Failure will have to be accepted also by management, as not all ideas will make it to the finish line, most likely will not, and some that had been accepted might prove not to be winners after all. But as long as there are learnings taken from the failures and proven ideas are being implemented, the organization will innovate, at an accelerating pace. Stimulate innovation, and it will happen.
Innovation is one of the core pillars behind the I2ACT management philosophy. I2ACT Canada has years of experience in creating innovative cultures at organizations across the globe and driving efficiency and productivity gains through technology & process innovation. We can actively assist your organization in creating an innovative culture building on the I2ACT philosophy and lead innovation-driven business turn-around and change management processes. If you want to learn more about the I2ACT philosophy and the services I2ACT Canada can offer your organization, visit the website or contact Dirk Baerts.