Effective Innovation for your Company

“Innovation is any change big or small that makes a difference.” – Thomas Smith

Innovation for the sake of it does not make it effective but rather such people or companies that are only making attempts at innovation to be part of the bandwagon. However, if it is not effective innovation it will lose its power of differentiation and hold no meaning. In order for a lone entrepreneur or company to grow their brand, they must practice effective innovation – that is create things that ‘make a difference and are significant’. When innovation is done to be part of the ‘tide’ a company can be sure that sooner than later their business and brand would get sidelined and relegated into obsoletion.

Every company can and wants to be known as an innovator. However, effective innovation as a habit and part of the strategies of your business, not only save your company time and money but also raises your status to that of market leader, which in turn is the impetus any company needs to grow their business and forge ahead of competition. Effective innovation does not just refer to creating a new product but looks at more effective processes, strategies and operating procedures. With improved and better working systems, the end result will be a lot more impactful and find greater usage for a larger audience. Effective innovation can, by these aspects, work as a catalyst and stimulus for sustained growth and success of a company and also allow the company added flexibility and agility to respond to the ever changing market and business scenarios.

The mistake some companies make is believing that innovation is only about inventing or creating something different. The term effective innovation is more than just mere creation – it is the companies ability to ‘consistently’ deliver better offerings and service without raising their costs or adding human resources. Effective innovation is when it is part of the vision and culture of the company – each employee is constantly focused on how to make things work better, produce better results and bring out small and big changes on a daily basis that would ultimately positively impact the company. Effective innovation also encompasses the thought and actions that let companies look beyond the traditional and ‘here and now’ approach, and look to the future. It is also about being able to provide solutions to problems both internally and for customers, that have hitherto not been tried but have a significant scope of success. Companies that ‘practice’ effective innovation are not risk or change averse and it will show in whatever they do. Customers are more likely to flock to a company that displays such sensible courage and yet come up with products and solutions that even they didn’t think of. Even the employees of such companies are more productive and are constantly focused on making significant improvements on a daily basis.

There is no doubt that to even survive in the current cut-throat business market, each company and their leaders must also be ‘thinking’ effective innovation. It is about changing the mind-set that moves from the tried and tested to adapting to the current and then creating something that will gain a stronghold in the market that will be unshakeable for a long time. This kind of thought process is needed and is vital to make effective innovation possible. To not move and change is a clear sign that a company is about to fold-up and ‘die a natural death’.

When a company is looking to innovate, they usually get a group of people together (mostly the same group) to discuss and ideate. However, since it’s the same set of people most of the time the ideas are staid and rehashes of what worked in the past and hence no effective innovation really takes place. These meetings and brainstorming sessions become boring and cause a lot of annoyance within the company and soon people lose interest. The inability of these same groups to unlearn and let go of what they think they know is the biggest stumbling block. The very premise of effective innovation is about thinking ‘unique, niche and hitherto unheard of or tried’. Companies land up with nothing and to quote Albert Einstein “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. As we mentioned, effective innovation demands clarity of thought, a change in mind-set that allows previous ideas to be kept aside and an open mind that will allow one to think differently enabling the birth of new ideas. Is your company also stuck in “insanity”?

Looking at the premise and definition of effective innovation, the fact that emerges is that it is tough – but not impossible. It will come with experience and practice and will soon cease to be something that companies, do for the sake of it but don’t really invest too much thought or time. Effective innovation is about, for companies, being able to find a fine balance between what they have experienced, what they know now and what can happen in the business world tomorrow. It is not about throwing caution to the wind but rather achieving the equilibrium between creating something unique and the actual realities and risks of the business. The concept of effective innovation is to spur the company forward but must, most definitely take into consideration what the customers, want and what will work for them and be feasible for them.

Effective innovation, just like any other change for a company, takes a long time and a lot of effort and many times these efforts don’t bear out and the projects do not reach fruition. Effective innovation therefore also focuses on making improvements and working with thought processes that will reduce the number of failures and projects that don’t see the light of day! For companies to implement effective innovation, they must invest and be mindful to the growth and success of its people, the technology it uses and the processes that the former two work with. For employees of the company to imbibe and have a mind-set of effective innovation, companies must invest in them through proper employee policies, compensation, rewards, benefits and a work environment that brings out the best in each one. Companies must do away with the traditional thought process that only one or two particular departments would be responsible to carry out the innovation projects – however, for effective innovation there must be collaboration and inputs from all levels and departments of the organization. With more ideas and knowledge bases at work, innovation becomes effective.

On the technology front, companies must be able to use it digitize and streamline processes and centralize data that is then more useable for the ‘people’ of the company. Simpler and easy to use technology will encourage and motivate people to use it rather than relying on manual processes. Also the steps or methods employees use must support innovation and encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration at all levels.

Effective innovation must be all-round – no improvement can be expected if companies choose to invest in one of – people, technology or process. If the technology in companies is not updated and does not support the processes, how can the employees of the company be expected to work effectively? Also if the employees do have a congenial work environment and their efforts are not regularly appreciated, they would not apply themselves to create something over and above their normal duties.Effective innovation is a key aspect of any business and a competitive advantage that every company must have. The ‘magic’ will happen when a company weaves the idea into the very fabric of their business and each person lives and breathes it.

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