‘Innovation’ is a powerful weapon in your business armoury. Yet we hear this word so often, it has somewhat lost its currency. Many businesses say they strive to ‘innovate’ or sell ‘innovative’ products and services, but when you drill down to where the innovation lies, it’s usually pretty thin, if it exists at all.
So what is true innovation? In a recent Forbes article on 22 ways to digitally transform, innovate and compete for the future, Brian Solis defines innovation as ‘doing new things that creates new value’. If you can do this to the extent that the old thing becomes obsolete, you’re being disruptive too.
Having an innovation mindset is crucial if your organisation is to stand a chance of survival in these turbulent and fast-changing times.
One CEO, interviewed for a Henley Business School report put it like this:
“As organisations, we need to best equip ourselves to deal with today, tomorrow and the future. At present, there is too much focus on the short term, and not enough on how we transform our ways to become more able to embrace the future.”
Digital technology is certainly helping people be more inventive when designing new products and services. However, innovation comes as much from the mindset of the individuals involved than it does from the latest hardware or software.
As Brian Solis says: “the disruption that many businesses face is part technological, but mostly human.” And there must be method in the madness, too – innovating for innovation’s sake is a waste of time.
How, then, do you innovate in a way that really makes a difference and future-proofs your organisation?
Innovate to compete
First of all, you should see innovation as an investment. True innovation takes time to deliver results and, because of the nature of trial and error, can never guarantee success. It's a risk, but one worth taking.
Consider your value proposition and then imagine new and exciting ways of achieving it, using modern technology where relevant. We emphasise the last point because a lot of companies take completely the wrong approach – they hear about the latest gadget or software craze and think they should adopt it too. But if the product isn’t a perfect fit for the business, then it ends up being a waste of time and money.
Think about what Simon Sinek calls your ‘why’ here – the reason you’re doing what you’re doing and how you can do it differently.
Have one eye on the future, too. It’s not much use trying to innovate using yesterday’s or even today’s thinking. Research your industry and competitors, then get creative and imagine your industry five years from now. Think about how you can design products and services that will be market-ready when your industry changes.
Innovate to attract and retain talent
Many companies focus their innovation energies on business output. But the world of talent is changing and the mindsets of different generations means attracting the right talent is a more complex affair than it used to be.
Again, being future-ready will pay dividends in the long run. Get informed about what motivates the next generation of talent and be creative.
In his Forbes article – the top ten ways to attract and retain talent – Brent Gleeson says that creating space for people to grow – and branding your organisation as such – will help you become an industry leader.
You should also provide the right kind of personal development based on cutting-edge thinking. This means having great leaders tuned into modern ways of working. New recruits want to know who will be guiding them, and having visionary leaders on board who inspire and empathise will give your organisation a strong suite.
Ultimately, true innovation begins in the imagination and becomes reality with excellent execution. If you get that right, then you can truly claim to be an ‘innovative’ organisation.
Cegos offers a range of courses to inspire an innovation mindset, particularly in your leaders and managers. Contact us to find out more.
Creating an innovation culture and mindset in your organisation will also be a major theme of our flagship event “Brave new ways of working – leading a workforce fit to win” on 23rd March 2018 in Singapore.Watch a teaser trailer, find out more and register your interest here