There is increased competition for all ingredients that create a successful business enterprise—happy clients, inexpensive capital, engaged and talented employees, and reliable business partners. In this environment, innovation has become the most relevant and fashionable, as well as the most abused word in today’s corporate context!
While there are a number of examples of corporations that do this constantly and set the benchmark for everyone else, most global businesses struggle to do this consistently. Let’s examine whether we can build a simple yet sustainable model to drive innovation at our workplaces in “value partnerships” across our ecosystems.
To do that, let’s decode “innovation” first. As per the Oxford dictionary, to innovate is to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” Now we can proceed to identify the key ingredients that can help catalyze innovation:
| Innovation: Established Way, Change, New Way
STEP 1-UNDERSTAND THE “ESTABLISHED WAY”
- Who are our customers?
- What are we producing for customers (output)?
- How do we produce the output for customers (input)?
- Who performs the input processes (suppliers)?
STEP 2-INTRODUCE “CHANGE” TO IMPROVE THE “ESTABLISHED WAY
- How do we identify “what and why” to change?
- Listen to clients and their customers–not only for problems but also for possible business solutions.
- Listen to frontline employees who interact with customers; they have a lot of insight and knowledge.
- Listen to internal and external suppliers.
- How do you identify “when” to change?
- Prioritize on the basis of resources available–people, capital, time etc.
- Prioritize “what” must be done in partnership with clients.
- How do you identify “how” to change?
- Establish a change sponsor, a change advocate and change agents.
- Replicate the steps in “what and why” process.
- Pilot the “new way” to measure implications and results.
STEP 3-CELEBRATE THE “NEW WAY
- It is critical to celebrate the success of the new “improved” way.
- Share the success with your clients, partners and employees.
- Reward your change agents–this helps reinforce behavior as well as brings the “nay Sayers” and the “fence sitters” into the mainstream.
STEP 4-SUSTAINING AND CATALYZING INNOVATION
Innovation most definitely lends a strong arm for value creation and gives organizations that much needed edge over competition. A recent study
by Booz Allen Hamilton stated that, “Innovation is inherently a highly cross-functional activity that, when it works well, creates a constructive tension between competing objectives of development cost, product value, performance, quality, and time to market.”
Finally, to catalyze accuracy and succeed, the deployed changes need to mobilize the foundation of the organization. There are evolved, sophisticated methods of implementing the above mentioned steps. However, the key is to ensure that these steps are built into your innovation process!
Innovation is and will continue to be vital for the growth and sustenance of an organization. Do you think implementing these changes alone is sufficient to empower an organization? What according to you are the other enablers that would make these changes more efficient? Share your views in the comments.