We hear about innovation all the time these days.
Governments need to embrace innovation because they need to “do more with less”, and increase their tax base by encouraging innovative companies that create jobs.
Companies are told that they need to innovate to be competitive, to adapt to changing market conditions and remain relevant.
Employees are told to “think outside the box” … of course nobody explains what that “box” looks like!
Here is what I think about when I think of innovation.
Innovation does not have to be a brand new idea or product … it needs to be a change from what was there previously and it should bring some positive result, such as improved productivity, increased profits etc.
Some of the most “innovative” companies achieve some or all of their innovation by acquiring smaller entities that have made breakthroughs. They might actually not innovate internally at all, but find ways to bring innovation into their company.
Some of the most innovative ideas come from an evolution in thinking rather than a revolution in thinking. The smart phone did not happen overnight, it was discussed for years and as technology evolved the smartphone was a natural product.
Any company can be an innovator, but they need to create the right environment and have an ability to recognize it when they see it and a willingness to embrace the change that it will bring.
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Albert Einstein
5 Tips To Foster innovation:
If you are company with enough resources, or an executive at a big company why not start a small investment arm that scours the country for startups operating in your industry … invest in them, help them grow and buy the ones that fit your strategy.
Develop pilot projects that try new ideas. Reward employees who bring new ideas, give them the opportunity to try it out on a managed scale.
Read about your industry. Read about related industries. Read about innovation around the world. See what is happening in other jurisdictions and discuss whether they could be applicable in your world.
Follow known sources of innovation. The Ideas Database from Springwise and Trendhunter are just two such sources. Work with universities, and understand their research and their entrepreneur clubs.
Talk to young people about what they are seeing. They tend to see new trends and know how they are used. Social media innovations, gaming innovations and other technological advances will have big impacts on business and it is the newer generations that grasped them first.
You don’t need to make a huge investment in dollars, but it is an investment in time and it also needs to be an investment in “mind share”. You will need to be open to change, willing to listen and understand implications even if it is not intuitively easy.
“The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.” Arthur Koestler
Innovation CAN be a game changer … if you can get your head around it!