There is an equal proportion of confidence and confusion around practising innovation. Some businesses struggle to define the concept, others are in a process of creating innovation programs, and the rest are already enjoying great results. One common belief among those who deal with it, though, is that innovation is of paramount importance and should be placed at the core of a company's agenda, even if it is sometimes a challenge. Here are 5 practices that can help innovation naturally flow through your company:
Innovation Friendly Environments
Innovation happens in places where creativity is continuously present, but in order to stimulate it, the right environment must be built. It's important that leadership teams spend time on building good relationships with employees. Friendly interactions and humor can be useful, especially if one lacks creativity or experiences too much pressure. It's also important to provide innovation teams with space to generate ideas. Albert Einstein used to take long walks alone to analyze his theories, the same approach can be useful for innovators in your company. Noisy environments and a lack of space for individual work can become a serious problem, therefore, equipping an office with a quiet area can be a game changer. Also, by providing flexibility, creative minds will feel more comfortable and creative.
Innovation is all about new ideas and experimentation with potential products or services. Since everyone understands it, not everyone pays attention to measuring innovation. Firstly, companies should stop thinking that innovation can't be measured and only occurs spontaneously. Generally, an analysis is focused on ROI, the number of registered patents and percentage of revenue from new products. However, there are other ways to measure innovation. It's worth measuring how much time it takes from the point when the idea is approved to its first profit, and also, record the number of ideas submitted by employees to assess the state of creativity. In the digitized world we live in, it's easy to install an 'innovation platform' where participants can share ideas without fear of judgement. It will drive engagement, produce valuable feedback and most importantly, will help to keep an eye on how active the team is. It's also worth considering launching 'innovation programs' that can be in the form of brainstorming sessions, exercises and competitions, which can stimulate a competitive spirit and motivation.
Setting Up Labs
Innovation labs, are also known as innovation teams, funds or units can come in various sizes, methods and resources. More companies find the practice a valuable addition and a worthy investment. Instead of asking people to deliver innovation being spread across various departments, it can be useful to have them in one place, with the right resources on hand. Labs generally work on scanning and defining problems with products and their solutions. They are also responsible for testing and prototyping products. Among the advantages of a lab, problem-solving efficiency, and product development organization probably stand out the most.
Securing Success And Retaining Results
If a company wants to achieve great results in innovation, it has to be consistent. Providing essential funds, launching labs but later abandoning such initiatives due to poor management, can turn into a serious problem, causing the appearance of 'zombie projects' (the ones that stopped developing but are still sucking from a budget). Innovation won't cause a headache if it's continuous, thus, leadership teams have to ensure all practices work like clockwork.