Are you letting innovation escape from your business?
We deal with a great number of varied projects and ideas, posed to us from people and organisations across all different industries and backgrounds.
Sometimes the application of the idea isn’t completely understood by the individual presenting it to us.
Sometimes the person is so frustrated about not having their ideas acknowledged and/or taken seriously by their supervisors, that they have even abandoned their workplace to charter their path to innovation on their own terms.
So, what causes this disconnect? And why are businesses letting such creative thinkers leave, only for them to make a success of their ideas elsewhere?
There are three things that need to be considered here:
- Structure (both of the business, and also that of the innovation process itself)
- Personality profiles
- Alignment and engagement
The structure of innovation?
Innovations can be incremental, sustaining, or disruptive in nature.
- Sustaining innovations are often the next logical steps for any business, often through a very formal process of strategy development, decomposing into the various operational strategies and programs. i.e. a very structured and logical process eg) Product improvements, brand extensions, taking existing products into new markets etc. Ultimately sustaining innovations will help your business set the pace of (or keep up with) the general progression of improvement in the market.
The remaining two can hardly be described as structured in the way that a typical corporation is structured. Harnessing the power of these two can prove daunting to those organisations chained to a traditional hierarchical structure with set limits and delegations:
- Incremental innovations involve allowing constant and consistent improvement with the way you manage your organisation’s internal resources, systems and processes;
- Disruptive innovations have the power to alter a market, an industry, or a way of life by creating an entirely new value chain. A common example used is the emergence of the internet and the affect it has had on altering the course of business, and of life in general.
The Personalities of innovation
We are all capable of coming up with ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem at the time. But certain personality types thrive at challenging convention, breaking things down to see how they work, learning new things, and constantly improving themselves.
Wouldn’t we all love to have such motivated and creative people working for us?
The sad thing is…you probably already do, but you just don’t know it.
They’re often just not the type of person to be the life of the party at team social days, instead they spend time in their own head developing unique and often quite brilliant plans. Because they place such an emphasis on personal improvement and a thirst for knowledge, this can often come at an expense to warmth or gregariousness, and such people will gravitate toward careers and positions within businesses where they can work alone rather than in teams.
Alignment and Engagement
The Power of the feedback loop – Structuring for the unstructured
For any business that is serious about developing a culture of innovation, I often refer back to a basic concept found in systems theory…the feedback loop.
Capturing innovation within your organisation starts with building an innovative environment and culture that encourages creative thinking
- Events and processes where all staff and management can express ideas without the risk of ridicule, or even punishment
- Encourage risk taking and experimentation – perhaps allow a junior with a fantastic idea to assist C-level executives in managing a trial of their concept?
- Reward new ideas and celebrate success
Be prepared to change
Innovation challenges convention, it challenges authority, it challenges organisational structures and hierarchies. It does not discriminate between businesses, sectors or industries. But when harnessed, the power of innovative thought in your workplace is one of the biggest competitive advantages your business can have.