Yes, the word is used very often. However, embracing and welcoming innovation into your business is a critical strategy to staying relevant in an ever changing world. Innovation is typically defined as new ideas that satisfy customer’s needs. If you are simply throwing the word around and not conducting real measurable activities to develop new ideas, then yes, it may be a buzzword in your world.
However, at the Innovation Centre, we eat (did you see our Pi Day pictures?), breathe and discuss innovation daily. As a business owner or manager, you should seriously consider engaging in innovative thinking or your business could be “disrupted.”
So what is a disrupted innovation? A disruptive innovation is an “innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.” For example, Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, Netflix disrupted the video rental industry and Snapchat is disrupting social media with two billion pictures and videos disappearing daily. The looming threat of disruptions drives companies to take innovation seriously by hiring innovation leaders to drive new ideas and offerings. Companies also set up external teams that work specifically on developing new ideas for continued growth.
Greek yogurt giant, Chobani, is listed as one of the world’s most innovative companies in 2016. Chobani funded its own healthy-living food incubator that awarded six of its graduates $25,000 each to continue growing in a mission-driven way. Amazon is well known for not indulging in much in the way of flashy perks. But it does pay 95% of tuition for employees who takes classes in in-demand areas such as nursing and aircraft servicing—even if they have nothing to do with someone's responsibilities at Amazon.
You do not need to be a billion dollar company to conduct similar activities. Here are a few innovative activities you can do right now to start the idea flow within your business:
1. Allow a space for employees to generate ideas. Design a physical space for idea generation such as an idea box or suggestion board or simply block off time in your employee’s schedule for the free flow of conversations and brainstorming. Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their work time on anything they want to develop.
2. Be in tune with the needs of your customer. As a business owner, spend time with your front line staff to ensure that your clients and customers are happy. Conduct a customer journey map with these employees to see if there are areas that are causing pain points for your customers and employees. Always stay empathetic. Apple is brilliant for creating products, packaging and consumer assistance that is completely focused on a positive experience for the customer.
3. Be ready to fail. In order to create new ideas, design a quick prototype, you must be willing to fail fast, pivot and start again. If you are completely risk adverse, then there is no room for experimenting with new processes or products. By the time you decide to launch your absolutely perfect product, another company could swoop in and do it better and faster. Obviously there are some roles that cannot embrace failure so wholeheartedly such as pilots, heart surgeons and nuclear power plant managers. However for those who can, it is all about calculated risk.
Yes, we eat, sleep and breathe innovation daily, and we can show you how your business can too.
Our Centre has developed training sessions educating businesses on design thinking, storyboarding, creative confidence and innovative workplace development. In the beginning of March, our Centre facilitated the Innovocorps Conference in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. These sessions allowed our Centre to provide hands on facilitation and keynote presentations to over thirty small and medium sized businesses.
Blog Entry by Melissa McClement