Innovation that will improve your company in four steps

Author
Ivo van Halen
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Every company or department would like to innovate. The big question still remains how? The answer is actually quite simple: It’s in your people!

In every workplace people keep saying that they are innovative, but how many ideas and changes actually see the light of day? I think it’s safe to say way too little. Generally innovation is poorly facilitated. People are afraid to go out on a limb, to take risks. This ensures that nothing changes and everything stays the way it has always been. We’re doing just fine. Right? Or even worse, something changes ‘because the competitor does it too’. With that copy and paste attitude you won’t make it in the 21st century.

Your competitors will gain on you if you keep doing what you’ve always done. The market expects innovation and your competitors will respond to that! You have to make sure that you are future proof and relevant!

If you take the next four steps, you have used the maximum innovation power of your people. You will give your people the opportunity to take risks in an environment that they feel safe in.

  1. Make time for innovation. If you are critical enough, you will find enough ‘spare’ hours in a week. Try to bundle these hours for innovation. Make sure you clearly communicate that people can spend time on this project and that you have the approval of a superior.

  2. Make teams and give them the assignment to come up with the best new idea! Set up a few conditions which are relevant to you or the organisation. For example; the idea must be interesting on a commercial level or it must be in line with the company vision.

  3. Let the teams work through the experiment board from lean user experience. Make sure that the ideas are validated in the market as soon as possible. Are people willing to pay for this idea? Or if you’re working on internal innovation; are they willing to clear their budget for this? In this article you can find tips about validating your idea.

  4. Let the teams present their ideas to a jury. Try to find an external jury which you have a connection with on a business level and let them judge the ideas. Work out the winning idea or build a prototype as soon as possible and make the idea tangible.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done your competitors will gain on you. The market expects innovation and your competitors will respond to that! You have to make sure that you are future proof and relevant!

If you undertake these steps, you will use the knowledge you have available around you. You will keep innovating. Even if the winning idea won’t be the big break you hoped it would be, it will still be useful. It stimulates your own entrepreneurial ability and your employees’. Besides that, this method is ideal to test changes you would like to process. Instead of developing something from end-to-end you can use this method and test your idea in an inexpensive way with limited risks.

When does your first innovation project start?

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