With the pace of change and disruption only picking up across most industries, it’s more important than ever to foster a culture of innovation in your organisation. Consumers expect it and the standard is high.
1. Start from the core
The best place to start, as with most things, is with your business goals, strategies and values. This will give you a clear understanding of where innovation is needed and where its value will be maximised.
2. Embrace new technologies
Depending on the size of your organisation, having a CTO or CIO may or may not be possible. Either way, having new technology at the top of your priorities list is essential to being a proactive player and industry leader. With huge growth in digital technologies for enterprises - particularly around artificial intelligence, chatbots, mobile, analytics, social media, the cloud, the internet of things, and virtual reality - all industries need to be innovating across all business facets including internal operational efficiency, better customer offerings and experiences, and marketing.
New technologies implemented in accordance with your organisation’s mission and strategies can be very effective at improving your bottom line by creating new levels of efficiency and scalability.
Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing and what your customers want or expect is also useful when considering what new technologies to implement.
3. People & culture
Innovation isn’t just about keeping up with technology but also about forging new unprecedented pathways across all facets of your business and market. Having the right people inside your organisation plays a huge part in paving the way.
Having an effective innovative leader that leads by example is important, but so is having the right employees and empowering them to be leaders.
By investing in the right, passionate people you’ll not only ‘get the job done’ but open up the opportunity to push new boundaries. Investing in effective hiring HR processes can be valuable here but so is giving staff the resources and tools needed to make the most of their potential.
One way of attracting the right people includes hiring young people to give them experience outside of conventional academia to complement their learning. You can influence the rest of their learning by giving them practical context and a future pathway, and benefit from harnessing the power of ‘fresh blood’ and new ideas.
To influence internal culture as being innovative, people need to be rewarded when they offer up new ideas - even if they’re not successful. Invest in learning internally to keep people stimulated, inspired and on the pulse in terms of new trends. Encourage people to be themselves and do what they’re passionate about - when you’re comfortable and feeling yourself your creative juices fly. People perform when they feel encouraged, free to think outside the box, and tied to the outcome. A flat management structure can assist with implementing this internal culture as it creates opportunities for open discussions.
4. Work together
Nothing exists in isolation. Businesses with units that work in silos often suffer from being in-cohesive. When units join forces, particularly business and technology units, you encourage idea sharing, and your best people in both areas work together towards a common end goal.
When units understand what other units do, people’s overall understanding of the business and desired outcomes is better, and their minds open to working in different ways which can spur innovation.
5. Be flexible, and not just in a reactive manner
People learn and work differently and this might not mean the conventional 9 - 5 office lifestyle we’ve come to know for most of the 20th and 21st centuries. If you can be flexible in how your people work you can get the best out of them - this might mean changing your office environment, working hours, offering remote options, or all of the above depending on your company.
In terms of operations, being flexible and agile is vital to enabling innovation. If possible, build change into your strategies and you will be better prepared for events that could otherwise shake your businesses’ foundations. Readiness for change will help your company be proactive and welcome change, rather than being reactive and resistant which will only keep you behind the game and lag behind your competitors.