By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Many companies' big ideas are often lost in a sea of competitive offerings that outperform them in the market.
If that's you, here are seven tips to help your organization become more innovative.
1. Choose and Commit to an Innovation Path
There are three types of innovation: Product, Process, and Business Model. Process is the least sexy of the three but is the easiest to tackle first and can reap great dividends. It can range from updating a cumbersome sales process to revamping your assembly line. Such improvements can immediately capture benefits in speed-to-market and increased profitability. Here's a great article that explains these concepts in greater detail.
2. Plan for Innovation
As we all know, unless you plan to do something, it most likely won't happen. Think about including targets for new products and services in your business plan. Make innovation a part of everyone's yearly goals.
It's well-known that if you don't measure it, it most likely won't happen.
3. Mobilize Your Employees
Try the following ideas to spark innovation with your most valued resource!
Be Approachable & Accessible
For your employees to be genuinely innovative, senior leaders and managers must regularly interact with their teams. Being approachable and accessible makes all the difference in the world.
Inspire your Employees to Dream
What does innovation look like to your employees? Inspire a culture of openness to new ideas.
Make Innovation the Norm
Take it one step further—let workers know how much you value their ideas. Make innovation a part of your company values. Talk it up during staff get-togethers. Hold regular ideation sessions.
Reward Innovative Ideas
Take it up one more notch--reward, not just recognize, employees for innovative ideas.
Allow for More Margin
One great way to reward employees that deserves its own category is by allowing more time for creative thinking.
4. Gather Feedback from Your Customers
There are many ways to do this: listen to customer complaints, interview/survey them, run a contest for new product ideas, or monitor social media posts. Then consolidate feedback as a basis for your innovation efforts. Most importantly, act on what you discover!
Is there another company you can collaborate with that provides excellent synergy? You can go where you can't go alone through such a partnership. It's essential, however, to have a similar philosophy to go along with different skills.
6. Minimize or Maximize
If something is a standard in the industry, try minimizing or maximizing it. Starbucks maximized price and customer experience. Southwest minimized standard offerings, like serving meals. At the same time, they maximized customer service.
It is better to be different than to be better.
7. Bring in Outside Help
If your company needs increased bandwidth, contract with someone for identified projects, or if you need help to determine where to start, think about bringing someone in who is skilled in innovation consulting.
What innovation efforts have worked for you? I'd love to hear what has helped your company to be more innovative! Or, if you're currently experiencing problems in this area, I'd love to brainstorm some ideas of where you could improve your profitability and increase innovation. Click the button below to schedule a time, and we'll get something on the calendar!