What is innovation?
Research has shown that many organisations don’t understand innovation sufficiently well to get a return on investment from it. Innovation is a methodical process. It involves collaboration between many different internal parts of an organisation and external stakeholders (including customers). They collaborate to solve and exploit business problems that lead to better business management and business growth. Generating ideas is not innovating. Innovation is taking and analysing a purposefully selected idea through a structured testing and development process that results in business growth and value.
Innovation if implemented with a focussed strategic approach delivers significant value for business operations and growth. The returns include better cost-effective business management, new commercially viable products and services, a deeper understanding of the innovation process within the workforce, enhanced engagement between staff and customers and sending the market a message that you listen to its needs. This results ultimately in an improved perception of your business brand.
In an increasing technology based economy and competitive and challenging markets, a focussed and strategic approach to innovation is a commitment to keeping up with customer trends and remaining competitive.
When to Innovate?
An innovation culture and the structured processes to capture its benefits should be embedded into an organisation from the beginning. The implementation and maintenance of such a culture starts from the top. Talk to anyone who has been in business for over 40 years, and they will tell you that whilst innovation appears to have gained popularity recently, the process is very old. Businesses that have been successful over many years, have always been innovative. It is the process that they have used to ensure they stay in business.
An innovative culture can be improved and deepened by business management at any stage. However, it is important to have a well-tried structure to support it.
How to Innovate?
In a few words, innovation is about business problem-solving and deriving value from the solutions, sometimes called commercialisation of ideas. Many businesses act as if innovation starts with idea generation, but the process is far more methodical and starts way before then. The process starts with a commitment from those running the business, at the top, and then a structured plan for the allocation or investment in resources that needs to be made. The generation, analysis, pivoting and the ultimate commercialisation of ideas comes later.
Unless the business has an innovation strategy in place as part of its business development plan, it is best to have an innovation consultant audit the business for its ability to implement an innovation process which will result in value generation.