The twists and turns in the journey of innovation
As you’re probably aware, business innovation is competitive. You’re faced with the challenge of producing original and valuable ideas on a consistent basis. However, you’ll be comforted to know this is the case for all businesses, from the smallest corner shop to the biggest corporations and tech giants. And, with modern technology, the playing field has never been more level.
The journey of innovation is a process. There are digressions and false starts that can leave you feeling everything is ‘two steps forward, one step back.’ You may end up with unexpected outcomes, which in another view could be looked at as failure. Failure is almost always part of progress. What you need to realise is that innovation itself is growth and learning. To use innovation for business is to embark on a developmental journey, while still retaining the ‘spark’ that identifies you and your business.
What is innovation in business?
‘Innovation’ as a term or practice can mean many things within the business or public sector. However, put into simple terms, innovation in business is about providing a product or service that improves the lives of others through creative solutions.
Top 5 tips:
1. Know who you are as a business and reflect those values as you innovate
You need to understand your business and why you do what you do. This is one of the defining characteristics that sets your business apart from countless others. When you innovate, you are creating a personification of your business values. If you value human connection and togetherness, your outcomes will feel whole-hearted and genuine.
2. Innovation is for those who dare
It’s usually seen as a risk to innovate, with costly development and next-to-no promises of a return. However, the world is moving forward and so too are your competitors. If your business isn’t looking to the future, you will remain in the past. A 2015 study reveals that 84 percent of consumers surveyed will make purchasing decisions influenced by whether a company is innovative or not. It is daunting, but rewarding.
3. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas.
Brainstorming is the go-to method for coming up with ideas, however the concept of brainstorming actually puts structures in the way of your thinking. It’s a process of identifying a string of logic and thinking of ideas surrounding a certain set of requirements. This is the biggest mistake you can make when thinking of initial ideas. Context is the enemy, here.
Ideas are random and usually without any structure. This is where the process of divergent thinking comes in. Your mind is an unbridled, unfocused entity that you can only guide. Try allowing yourself and others to explore thousands of ideas that are wacky, crazy or even out-right bonkers. Along the way you may find you’ve created the seeds of something genius. One critical moment can realise the potential of a truly unique idea.
4. Understand your niche and the lives you seek to improve
Understanding who you are trying to help – and why – is one of the most important steps towards developing your product or service. Never forget that your ‘users’ are people after all. Your business is about making other people’s lives better. If you aren’t making people’s lives better, what’s the point? With that in mind, get to know your customers, your employees, your shareholders. Don’t let bureaucracy or ‘professionalism’ (that kind where nobody actually talks to one another like human beings) get in the way of true progress.
5. Innovation doesn’t end when you finish a project
Frustratingly, innovation is a journey that never ends. When you think you’re finished, the very next day you must make a conscious decision to discover what lies beyond your new creation and how you could do it better. If you stop innovating – even for a moment – you might miss out the opportunities you’ve created for yourself.
Take Kodak for example.
Kodak developed the first digital photographic camera. However, their main source of business was selling film rolls. It’s now well known that digital cameras reign supreme, but Kodak was focused on their original business rather than exploring the opportunities this invention offered, which other companies happily capitalised on, leading to the eventual collapse of Kodak.
Successful innovation is often about a continual stream of learning and development across multiple companies and people, and, we become more and more connected, with international collaboration. Try not to hoard your innovations. Allow others to experiment and use your ideas to discover new ones. This is how you get a feedback loop that galvanises further growth. As long as you keep innovating, you don’t need to worry about what other people or companies are doing.
How we can help you with your journey?
Are you interested in starting or developing your own innovation journey? We offer workshops and consultation to help your business get the most out of your journey. If you want to know more about our innovation journey, please follow the links to find out more about our process and methods.
At Mindfulness Design, we specialise in a human approach towards business, whilst using design thinking to help other businesses grow and develop. We offer a range of tailored options for your business to get the most out of a learning experience that is right for you.