Innovation is a concept that doesn’t stay stagnant. By definition, innovation is something that's always moving forward and needs consistent reinvention in order to stay relevant.
Even if your company has been innovative in the past, the most creative ideas tend to get old over time. Your competitors start to catch on to the most successful ones, and all ideas become outdated eventually. Before your sales start slipping and you begin losing loyal customers, it's time that you reinvent your corporate innovation.
Below are a few ways in which any company could reinvent innovation and stay ahead of the competition:
1. Understand the Business Model
The jargon of the business world includes the term 'business model'. As much as you stick with your business model, you may not know what it is. The same goes for your colleagues and fellow managers, resulting in miscommunication and confusion. Hence, you first have to be conscious of which business model you're following and what its flaws are.
Many businesses might follow a legacy model for their daily operations. This may have worked wonders in the past, but not many are actually applicable in the current day and age. See if your company is operating on an age-old business model by only tweaking a few aspects to enhance product quality or the implementation of certain concepts.
Once a business manager understands the current business model, they can seek to change it. Some models may have expired completely, while others are still salvageable. See what your model can do for you, but remain open to the fact that you may have to completely change it in order to earn profits and offer something of value to your audience. If this doesn’t happen soon, you might be looking at the end of your business.
Being innovative can only take you so far, but it can't help if your business model is off the radar. For instance, Kodak was an immensely innovative company but relied almost solely on digital photography. It did help with inventing digital photography but did little to accommodate it. This adherence to a certain legacy of a business model is not going to cut it in the modern world, especially not in an industry where technological advancements can render several products completely obsolete.
2. Assess Everything
Now that you've taken a look at your business model, assess your whole business and see where you stand. The business landscape is littered with corporations that failed due to lack of innovation. In order to jumpstart the innovation process, you should take a look at what the input to the company is. This means your employees for the most part.
The second aspect to look into is the process of transformation, namely the method with which your employees work their innovative magic. Having brilliant employees is not enough; they need to be trained to express their ideas and contribute toward making them a reality. In order to measure this, take a close look at the corporate climate of your company, the dynamics of its teams, and how the implementation mechanisms are performing.
Finally, you have to look at the output of your operations. You have employees and creativity, but what comes out of it? The projects you produce should be highly innovative and creative to begin with. The innovation level should also be increasing at a steady rate. What’s even more vital is making sure that you’re more innovative than your competitors. Otherwise, they’ll be sure to catch up with you.
3. Creating Ideals
In order to find out what innovation is potentially hidden in your company, be sure to set ideals for everyone involved. This could be reflected in your mission statement, your encouragements, and generally the tone you set for the whole business.
In order to get the ideas out there and working, think about holding ideation workshops on a regular basis, and this kind of workplace culture is one of the main reasons millennials are preferring to work at startups over corporations. Ideation workshops are where the most creative minds of a company gather together and combine their innovative ideas. These ideas are usually presented in an open, safe environment where they can gain a fresh start. It’s not guaranteed that every single workshop like this would result in a slew of brilliance each time, but it does provide a suitable platform for them to come out into the open.
For every new launch of an innovative product, there could have been 3000 ideas that preceded it. Out of these, you may have to drop thousands of seemingly creative starting points, but the one that’s left could be the start of a new expansion. Hence, it’s recommended that you hold as many ideation workshops as possible.
4. Look at Success Stories
You can gain inspiration and ideas from companies that have wavered in the past but gotten right back on the innovative track. The best examples to learn from may be your competitors. Take a close look at what your competitors are up to these days, especially if they’re flourishing and succeeding in your field of interest. You would definitely learn something of great value that you may then directly apply to your own venture.
You can get motivation and even wisdom from the stories of highly successful giants in any industry. These may or may not be your direct competitors, but their success has something to teach everyone who has an interest in running a consistently flourishing business.
Thus, you should take some time to delve into the backstories of giants like Apple, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other inspirational companies. Each one of them would have hit some snags in their history where their innovations just weren’t good enough, fast enough, or developed enough. The way they managed to pick themselves up and forge on should be a true inspiration to any business, no matter the size, field, or goals they have.
5. Intervene While There’s Time
Now that you have an idea of your business model, its weaknesses, and some inspiration on hand, start thinking about your goals for innovation. Determine the length of time in which you’re seeking to make an innovative change in your company and start working toward this aim. Think of what changes you want to make in relation to your performance this year. You should also think about the current position you have against your competitors and see how it can be improved.
Your first focus should be on changing the culture within your corporation. As a business manager or owner, you should be the first one to set an example. Start putting forward creative ideas yourself and encourage anyone who thinks outside the box. You may also want to get a group of creative employees together and lead them in bringing forward ideas and implementing them.
If you foster an atmosphere that welcomes creativity and isn’t afraid of breaking conventions, your corporate innovation level may never go down in the first place. Young employees and interns are an especially valuable source of new ideas that are in tune with current trends. You can also focus on hiring new people with an eye for creativity. At the same time, though, you shouldn’t be neglecting the experience and wisdom of older employees.
After implementing the principles above, you could be well on your way to improving your corporate innovation to a whole new level. The methods outlined here could be more effective than injecting a huge amount of resources into the company as a whole. In order to reinvent the corporate innovation process, you need to replace the traditional methods and empower employees at the same time.
The allocation of resources is a major factor for all the ideas outlined in this discussion. If you give too many or too little resources to each one, the innovation process may actually be hindered to a certain extent. For instance, if some employees are coming up with great ideas, make sure they meet the proper criteria in order to attain the required resources.
Once you’re done with implementing all these measures, take another look at the operations of your company and see if there’s any improvement. A positive difference might take some time to make itself visible. Give the new process at least a few months before you start tweaking it again. In any case, intervening in your corporate innovation strategy should be a never-ending process. Keep at it for the long term, and you’d be sure to see a flourishing company at your fingertips.
About the Author
Kim-Sa Ngo is a Marketing Intern at Valuer.ai. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, studying International Relations and Anthropology. She is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark and has tons of experience in digital marketing, content writing, and SEO projects.