Innovation is the process of developing new things. In business, the term often refers to the commercialisation of new ideas, inventions, products, designs and resources.
Competitive benefits from innovation include:
An innovative business owner is always on the lookout for:
- improved quality
- greater customer satisfaction
- extended product or service range
- increased profits
- reduced costs
- improved production techniques.
One of the best ways to gain fresh perspectives on your business and to identify opportunities for improvement is to ask questions. On a regular basis, think about each product or service you offer and consider how you could:
- new and/or better products and services
- more efficient processes
- new ways of delivering services
- other innovative strategies to put them ahead of their competition.
Innovation isn’t just about ad-hoc ideas and one-off improvements. You can foster an innovative culture in your business to encourage a continuous flow of fresh ideas. The following tips will help get you started:
- make it safer
- make it cleaner
- make it slower or faster
- make it more convenient to use
- make it easier to package, store or transport
- make it less expensive to replace, repair or re-use
- make it easier to clean or maintain
- make it less noisy
- add new features
- improve its design
- make it more attractive and appealing
- reduce labour costs
- minimise the cost of materials
- improve its availability or distribution
- improve its promotion.
Provide top-down support
Reduce resistance to change
- Let your team know that you expect innovation.
- Make sure you and your employees don’t put innovative ideas in the too-hard basket or on the backburner without a good reason.
- Build a business culture that supports risk-taking and questioning.
Encourage improvements in your business
- Identify and make the need for change well-known throughout the business.
- Create ownership of change by involving employees in planning and implementation processes.
- Have genuine regard for the concerns and possible resistance of your employees.
- Monitor the effects of change.
Link innovation approaches to the SWOT analysis in your business plan
- Make it known that suggestions or ideas for even minor change are welcome – many small innovations can have a positive cumulative effect on productivity and often carry less risk.
- Be prepared to listen to all suggestions and ideas.
Identify problems and creative solutions
- Use identified opportunities to point the way to new products, services or markets.
- Develop solutions to minimise the impact of weaknesses.
Encourage experimental attitudes
- Encourage an active awareness and recognition of problems as opportunities.
- Develop a business environment which experiments with new ideas.
- Recognise contributions made by employees at all levels, whether or not the suggestion is adopted.
- Identify appropriate financial and non-financial rewards.
Promote the role of innovation ‘champion’
- Accept that time and resources will be invested in experimenting with new ideas that will not work.
- Avoid assigning blame and penalising employees.
Create an open, decentralised organisational structure
- Wherever possible, give the creator of the innovation project the responsibility and authority for leading and coordinating its development.
Follow up on ideas from customers and suppliers
- Encourage open channels of communication.
- Encourage people to be open-minded. Many good ideas are killed off by early ridicule.
- Encourage contact with outside sources.
- Talk over problems and issues with customers with a view to sourcing new ideas.
- Talk to suppliers to help identify sources of complaints that can lead to improvements in operations.
This content was first published on www.business.tas.gov.au