Some innovation happens by accident like the slinky, Rogaine or the post-it note but most innovative ideas are the result of a disciplined process that is managed within a company. The other aspect is that most innovative ideas are small ideas that result in big changes in the company not BIG innovative ideas/products like the iPhone that are considered DISRUPTIVE.
Successful innovation efforts have four (4) key elements:
1. Strategy – the company has established some parameters and the CEO has set some objectives for the organization to achieve. As such it is NOT and ad hoc process. Having an innovation strategy helps guide the organization in its ideation process so that the right ideas that have merit/possibility are pursued and other are ignored.
2. Structure – innovative ideas come from everywhere in a company, whether that’s the mail room or the warehouse or the person answering the phone at the front desk. As such, you shouldn’t isolate your innovation efforts to a special team or person. Collaboration is key to a healthy innovation process and coming up with great ideas that change the game for your company. Encourage interaction between employees and loosen the formal controls if you want to ignite innovation efforts in your company.
3. Skills – collaboration happens among people that are open to it and who are good communicators. Taking a small idea and being able to see different sides or opportunities of it is a skill that need to be nourished. Find people in your company that like to think outside the box, who have a broader business perspective and put them in a room with other and see what happens. Bringing business partners in to the process is also a great way to stimulate innovation because at the end of the day it’s all about solving customer problems.
4. Process – There needs to be a process in place to manage ideas from concept to implementation. Companies suffer a variety of problems when it comes to innovation efforts but it usually starts with an absence of process. The three basic components of process are: ideation—–development—–implementation so you need discipline in these three areas otherwise great ideas run the risk of falling through the cracks and never seeing the light of day.
Great innovation starts with effort and is a committed process within an organization. No better time to start than now. You can learn more about our innovation efforts here.