In the business world, innovation is based on new ideas and new methods – usually to improve a company’s process or improve the consumer’s experience. A firm can bring groups of people together to brainstorm for the next big innovation and keep up with the competition, but this may not lead to any fruitful ideas. Innovation does not always need to be the next multi-million-dollar idea – it could also be something gradual driven from within the organization.
Common innovation misconceptions can delay your team from coming up with your company’s next idea. Begin by understanding the difference between what innovation is and is not:
We hear the stories of companies who come up with brand new, radical innovations that turn out widely successful. For many of us, this is the image of innovation we have in our minds. What we don’t hear about are the processes that these “overnight successes” followed each day to get to where they are today.
Innovation should be about starting small. Focus on the impact of your efforts rather than the scale. Eventually, a small innovation can turn into something big, but it usually doesn’t happen right away.
Innovation does not have to cost an arm and a leg. When making small efforts towards a large innovation, break your project down into more manageable expenses along the way instead of one large venture on a project that might not be successful.
The best way to begin is by prototyping and testing. Make small investments to test the concept and gain a better understanding of what works and how it can be improved. With a tailored idea in mind after testing, the ultimate investment in innovation can be more strategic.
Many companies have decided to hire a person or team to lead innovation for the company. While these teams can bring an organization great success, they can also be a limiting factor since the ideas are only coming from a select group of people. Every person connected to the organization, including customers, has potential to drive innovation. Sometimes the best ideas come from the people you would least expect. Encourage a learning culture that empowers each and every employee. Allow lessons to be learned from failures, and let the innovation leaders be a guide while everyone is thinking about ways an impact can be made.
Contrary to what many people believe, an innovation does not have to involve a huge, expensive project. It does not have to be a major change either – trying to introduce something too different to the market will only generate confusion. Fostering a culture of learning and transparency will help to naturally generate innovative thought regardless of the presence of an innovation team, and testing ideas before going full speed ahead will improve your chances of success.
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