The value of a bright idea
It’s natural to assume that innovation simply involves coming up with new and exciting ideas. In business though, bright ideas alone are not enough. Making your idea a commercial reality is what really matters and it defines true and valuable innovation in the workplace.
True innovation is not easy. There’s enormous risk involved, it requires constant focus that you may feel you don’t have the time for and finding value in an idea is no simple matter. But innovation is worth fighting for and can reap massive rewards.
What's holding companies back from getting the most out of innovation?
There are three key roadblocks to innovation, centered around process, skillset and decisions. The good news is all three roadblocks can be cleared with the right understanding.
Innovation happens because of people, not because of processes. For that reason, it’s absolutely paramount to make sure your business simplifies its processes so that everyone, from top to bottom, can easily get involved. That means rethinking decision making committees, hierarchical meetings and any other lengthy procedures that might complicate things. Make it straightforward for your employees to think big.
We explain to our employees how to submit expenses and other necessary skills, but the same level of attention often isn’t given over to creativity. Try to make sure everyone in the business knows how to ideate. That might mean sharing a set of rules on what a good idea looks like and how it should be communicated.
As a leader, there are various, effective ways to lead from the front when it comes to encouraging the right sorts of innovative behaviours. First up, don’t jump in and judge ideas before you’ve taken the time to understand them. It’s also key to lean in and actively participate in discussions around innovation, this is no time for delegation. Leaders should also make sure proper time is carved out for innovation. Too often it’s added at the last minute or on top of an already packed calendar. Finally, you need to demonstrate trust. Your team should understand which decisions can be made on the spot and which need discussion or approval.
Assuming you’ve collected a promising selection of ideas, the final roadblock lies in deciding which one to back. There are three criteria to help. They certainly aren’t exhaustive, but together, they enable quick and easy decision making, which is key to getting there before your competition.
- Are people in the business excited by this idea? People drive innovation, not process, so if your own employees are on board and passionate about it, you’ve got a head start.
- Can we sell this idea? A great idea is not enough. Can you execute it, and more importantly, can it add commercial value?
- Does the idea support my promise? Does your idea support your value proposition the capsule description of your business?
Armed with the answers to these questions you should be able to make well informed decisions and be well on your way to making the most out of innovation.
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