Innovation is not a dirty word

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a seminar hosted by the two founders of Planet Innovation which highlighted the importance and roll innovation plays in the success and future profitability of each and every business today.

I was interested to learn that Planet Innovation are not only a company who specialize in undertaking product development projects for clients around the world with a focus on innovation, but are also a wonderful Australian business success story.

For those of you who aren’t sure what innovation is, let’s start with a definition:

“The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.” The innovation can be for example technology, a product a service or even a method.

To survive in business today one must change to keep up with the market and customer needs and these changes can no longer be small, they need to be quantum leaps.  And a quantum leap change can’t occur without innovation.

To be profitable in business requires a differentiation from your competitor, the greater the degree of differentiation the more business you will win and hence become more profitable.

So let’s ask ourselves, if innovation is the key then how can a SME business introduce innovation. Especially when this form of thinking can often be perceived as the domain of big business.

The following are a few tips for you to follow:

  1. A mindset shift by owners and leaders to provide the motivation that innovation will be at the core of their future success.
  2. Implement a regular internal think tank session with your key employees. You may find an external facilitator may assist to kick this off, as long as they have an ability to think laterally and can encourage progress.
  3. Start by understanding your customer’s needs and identify their frustrations, pain points or key buying criteria.
  4. Get your team to run a whiteboard session and ask them, with no barriers what could your business do, add or modify (both product/service) to address your customers frustrations, pain point or to create a differentiation from your competitors.
  5. Spend time focusing on your method or process. For example take your delivery process, what could you do differently that would be seen by your customers as a clear point of differentiation.
  6. From your list on the whiteboard, narrow down your top three ideas by using your own evaluation criteria. Then discuss further and select the one strategy that if implemented would give your business a clear competitive advantage “your innovation.”
  7. Then develop a simple one page plan which includes required actions, who is responsible and by when.
  8. Don't forget that innovation is a team sport and collaboration is the secret so continually educate your employees with knowledge and new thinking.
  9. Encourage creativity, all ideas must be captured, think big and do not place self imposed barriers.
  10. Encourage curiosity by not only asking questions on how you can do things better but also why do we do it at all.

This relatively simple process can be adopted by any size business and will have an incredibly high impact, at a low cost. It does however require the commitment from the top so stop working in your business for just a few hours to enable free thinking and time to work on the business.

Innovation is a must for every business. If you would like assistance to conduct an innovation workshop please do not hesitate to contact:

Simply Business Australia

Philip Coombs

m/ 0419 834 678