25 Aug 2003|Added Value
How do you foster innovation in your company?
What are some of the core principles of being an organisational innovator?
Organisations need to be able to look out of the windows to develop breakthrough- marketing innovations. Too often companies are blinded by a comfortable and familiar cocoon. A good starting point is to take a much closer look at customers – our experience shows that the best inspiration inevitably comes from a rich and textured understanding of their needs.
This needs to be done in the context of a clear, yet courageous, vision for the brand and the business, which works best when it is developed, driven and sold from the top. Once there is agreement on what constitutes success – there must then be recognition that ideas can come from anywhere – and plenty of latitude given to finding ways to get there.
The passions of individuals in the business also need to be sparked and encouraged, as this is the energy that fuels innovation. People will always be best at what they believe in and enjoy and need the space to seek, build and sell their own ideas.
What is the “right” way to practice innovation?
Having a structured process in place is key to avoiding wasted effort, and ensuring that innovations are able to progress beyond the ‘long list of ideas’ phase. It’s best to invest the time upfront setting parameters, getting buy-in to the objectives, and filling knowledge gaps. Once this has been done the process should be opened up.
The team should be given opportunities to immerse themselves in the customer world, and stretch, challenge and play with the problem. It is important to set a specific time constraint for this so that eventually the process can be reigned in. This means giving more substance and detail to the most promising ideas and evaluating them against the standards set. Idea selection and refinement should then begin the process of preparing for market. If the upfront parameters were clear, and the market intelligence used is insightful and well grounded – the increased organisational confidence enables the implementation of innovations to progress more smoothly.
In short: How do you foster innovation in the workplace?
Be very clear about the end goal – and make sure that people in the organisation are able to get excited about it. Then open the business up to multiple inputs and perspectives – particularly your customer’s – and be prepared to get quite uncomfortable about what you hear. Lastly, know when its time to stop thinking about it and start doing it.