Top Tips for Businesses: Innovation

So you've had your first, or maybe even second, third or sixth, successful idea. Your business is going well, but you're nervous about the future having heard the mantra 'Innovate or Die'. Where are those new innovations going to come from to maintain your success?

The emphasis on innovation to stay relevant can feel a little overwhelming, and it’s all too easy to get caught up in costly activity in the search for fresh, innovative thought. Consultants and industry specialists have their place, but are often costly and distanced from the realities of your business, leaving you out of pocket and still adrift.

Have you considered all the options though? A good place to start is often inside your business. By understanding the creative value of your own employees you could identify the key to discovering your next successful product or service.

Your staff are your most valuable source for ideas. They know your business, understand your brand values, have direct contact with your clients and customers, understand your resource limitations and ultimately have a vested interest in the success of your company.

It’s important to give your employees an open, approachable platform for sharing their thoughts and ideas. Your company culture is the key to motivating innovative thought within your business, so review your current culture and make sure it encourages creativity and allows them to draw on collaborative team relationships easily.

Once you’ve instilled a culture of openness and sharing, now you need a suitable method for collating and reviewing these innovative ideas. Consider introducing a suggestions box, ideas wall, or regular brainstorming meetings. Give your team an insight into the process and demonstrate you are taking their ideas seriously, even if they can’t all be successful. Create a sense of value to the process of thought sharing.

No single-one person ‘owns’ innovation.

Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, and try not to immediately shut people down when then suggest something radical. Instead, take the time to consider what elements of that idea you could actually promote or utilise.

Remember, if your business doesn’t nurture the reality of cross functionality and open discussion, you won’t fosterĀ  innovative behaviour from your employees. Make sure they are aware it’s part of their job description, and give it a prominent place in weekly activity.