“There’s a way to do it better. Find it” – Thomas Edison. This quote by famous inventor Thomas Edison sums up the mindset that any businesses that wants to remain relevant in the 21st century should adopt.
For innovation to be considered real innovation then the innovative idea needs to be monetized, it needs to take on commercial value. Innovative businesses achieve any one of the following:
• Replace or improve an existing business process to make the business more efficient or productive
• Allow the business to improve the quality of its existing products and services
• Come up with new products and services to meet the evolving needs and demands of its customers
• Make changes to existing products and services to increase their perceived value or differentiate them from those of competitors
There is no specific way in which innovation manifests itself and can be one big change observed or even many small changes observed over a period of time. Innovation is of importance as it does the following to businesses;
Increases competitiveness – Innovation enhances productivity and efficiency while at the same time improves the quality of products and services. This increases competitiveness as products can be made at more cost-effective rates than competitors.
Attracts new customers – Innovation leads to improved products and services that meet consumer needs and demands in ways no other product or service can. This increases the appeal to customers and also widens the base of interested customers both in terms of the improved offerings as well as market reach.
Proactive approach to business – Customer needs and preferences are constantly evolving hence embracing the culture of innovation allows the business to adopt a proactive approach, to match the evolving customer desires.
Improved staff retention – Embracing a culture of innovation allows staff to unleash their creativity and work on challenging projects. This can improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover.
It is therefore very crucial to create space for innovation in business as it spices up what can be offered in today’s era compared to competitors. To create space for innovation the following needs to be provided for:
Strategic Space – Not only does innovation requires a physical space but also requires a shift in mindset and a shift in strategy. Innovation needs to be inculcated in the overall corporate strategy without which there will be no innovative results. It is the responsibility of leaders of the organization to think about the future of the organization and its roles then.
Portfolio Space – Creating a physical space for innovation is not enough, there needs to be the freedom to tinker and break things and then sit back and wait for amazing innovations to start rolling through the door. It is important to define the portfolio space within which the innovation team is supposed to operate as this would enhance most of the ideas spawned to have met some practical or commercial application.
Financial Space– ‘innovation is not all about money, but rather about the people you have and how you lead them.’ by Apple founder Steve Jobs. For innovation to be effective, you have to provide the innovation team with the financial space to innovate. Basically, this means ensuring that the company sets aside a budget for innovation activities.
Management Space– Innovation requires a different way of working compared to normal processes. In most cases, innovators within the company will rely on lean startup methods to come up with new products and services which requires lots of experimentation and iterative development. It is impossible to manage this model of working with the same tools and processes that are ordinarily used to manage the company’s core products and services. Hence you need to come up with a different set of tools that will be used to manage new product development, especially during the early stages
Time Space– as companies would encourage employees to come up with and work on new ideas they should as well provide for time space for being innovative. It becomes impossible to have a sustained innovation if employees are to work on the new ideas during the small slivers of free time they have during their normal workday. Google have maximized on this where they spend up to 20% of their time (about one day per week) working on projects that may be of interest to the company, even if these are external to the scope of their day-to-day work requirements.
Learning Space -Learning new skills is a natural part of innovation. This is embracing a culture where If someone within your company comes up with a better process that will improve the customer experience, New product or service then other employees have to learn this process. This also calls for space for train as to learn the new ways of doing things thus making it easier for the new innovations to be implemented across the whole organization.
Space to Fail– Innovation is all about trying new things and experimenting. Many experiments will not work. Hence, it is appropriate for an innovative company to embrace a culture to celebrate such failures to develop better product and services instead of pulling the plug on the innovation project and writing off the failed project. There’s need to understand that the more ideas are tried, the more likely they are to find one that works. Hence, rewarding employees for failing as well as giving space to fail.
Innovation is very important, and any company that wants to survive in today’s world where hyper competition is the order of the day needs to create space for innovation. At Springboard Capital, we enable innovation in business by financing businesses through our business loans. Find more information about business loan here and get in touch with us on 0700 944 444 and capitalize your business up for success.
Article by: Lagat Vincent – Business Development Manager – Agency and Product
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