When asking the question “How can we be an innovative company?”, it may be more difficult than it appears to find the appropriate answer.
This may be typical in the context of a large company with heavy processes that orchestrate any activity happening in its ecosystem.
Innovation is usually known as being an iterative process. Innovation is not about invention, it is about evolution.
We’ve seen it: many innovations have come from a slightly different usage of existing technologies, processes into a different and relevant context. Although innovation is about agility, it may also be a lengthy process.
Thus, how do you organize innovation within your company? What are the keys to make it an innovative company? How do you implement innovation through your whole organization when part of your business is already a creative and innovative one?
I will lazily reference as a “product” the output of your innovative journey. But it may as well reference a marketed product, a technology, a process or an organizational change, and very often all of them.
Innovation is about try and fail
Innovation does not happen overnight. The best iway to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
You will have to work-out several leads in order to achieve your objective. Most of the leads will fail, few of them will succeed, but you’ve learned in the process several lessons on what are the requirements to build a successful target.
You have to give yourself the right to fail, provided that each failure (and success) leads to return on experience, an assessment on what went well and what went wrong. You will have to inject each and every bit of new knowledge into your approach.
Innovation is a process
Yes. Despite what people might say or think, innovation is a true end-to-end process. The “idea” might be a genuine enlightenment, but driving the idea from a fuzzy set of great thoughts to a concrete product/process/organization is a complex and organized process that might succeed or fail.
Albert Einstein once said: “Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.”
Without a proper organization, support, governance, assessment, your idea is unlikely to go mainstream and find proper application into the world, other than theoretical.
Some will reply that many innovations went out right of a garage in the Bay area. And I will reply that a process does not mean it is a complex corporate property. A process is a series of steps, with a start and end and decision gates. At each stage, you know who should do what, and what should be the expected outputs.
And yes, garage days producing innovative products also went through a process, whether it was formal or informal. From design to production to market launch, you will have to make sure that all required fulfillments have been achieved, and that your public is ready to adopt your new baby.
Innovation is about collaboration
Anyone within your neighborhood has ideas. Some are good, others are not worth spending a penny on. You need to be aware of your environment and listen to its needs. Pull-off good ideas and try to incubate them.
Within a company, you might build an idea box/place in which employees can make suggestions on how to improve their life (aka being more agile, more efficient, gaining customer competitive advantage).
An incubated idea should be submitted for testing to a community, get a feedback. This is essential to measure the adoption of your product and enhance it. Leverage your ecosystem in order to get most of it, as pointed earlier, everyone has an idea, and very often, people have good ideas. People have different skills and will contribute in enriching your idea, with views and evaluations from different angles.
Marketing has proven the value of blind tests and customer tests, but do not forget that your first customers and voices are your employees.
Of course, the above are not the absolute truth on how you may become an innovative company, but in a nutshell, these are essential steps to consider whenever you plan to become one. Then consider having a lot of ideas and pull-of a good one.