Innovation Perspectives: Three steps

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Last week we talked about the ways in which a non-innovative company can become more innovative.

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Innovation journeys can begin by asking yourself one question: Where do I want to be? You can add all sorts of caveats to that (Where do I want to be in a year?) and definitions (By “I” I mean my company/department) but by starting with that one simple question, you can form a roadmap that is tangible and measurable. In innovation, the journey is as important as the destination: If you have no way to measure change, how will you know that you are successful?

To that end, there are three ways to think about the journey, if you start by answering, “Where do I want to be?”

  1. Make innovation a priority: Most companies under-fund and under-prioritize their innovation activities. These efforts must be embraced and forwarded by company leaders, not left to one worker in a dark corner of the office building, separated from all others.
  2. Define what innovation means to your organization: Many companies leave innovation to R&D and those responsible for new product development. Innovation should involve everyone, and it impacts everyone. Just because a new cost-saving practice was initiated in Marketing doesn’t mean it can’t be tried elsewhere.
  3. Update your processes: A suggestion box, digital or otherwise, won’t cut it. That method can be misleading, and even if you do collect suggestions, do you have a way to implement the best ones? Assess your capacity for innovation by evaluating your culture/climate (because culture is hard to change, but most employees are close to clients, products and processes – and they genuinely want to help if properly engaged), by evaluating your leadership (which will have the most amount of impact on your overall effort) and by evaluating your work process (allowing the entire initiative to scale).

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