Everyday Innovation – Small steps to big progress

idgeveryinnovOrganisations can be obsessed with producing the next big industry innovation, and then become profoundly disappointed when it does not occur at the pace or scale they want. Naturally, everyone wants to speed up their innovation cycle beyond one or maybe two genius ideas every one to two years, but this cannot be expected and is exceptionally hard to maintain.

In recent years, we have all seen Apple release game-changing products that disrupt entire markets, but what we don’t know is the lead time from initial idea to market release. The company concentrates and focuses on innovation at a level never before seen in the commercial world: for example, it has over 800 people solely dedicated to working on the iPhone’s camera. It is open about the power of its open and innovative culture, which supports its ability to deliver these amazing products, and more importantly, it’s always quick to register that without the support and efforts of the whole organisation they would not be achievable.

To maintain a level of innovation or to bring your organisation up to speed, you will need to alter or adapt the culture and mindset of your organisation to one that not only fosters but also rewards it. This focus is important, as being able to produce the next big industry disruptor will happen more readily within a culture that fosters everyday innovation. By creating this type of culture within your organisation, you will be producing a foundation for the delivery of game-changing and more disruptive innovation through the small everyday advances and innovative solutions to everyday problems that create an inventive business culture.

Through working with an everyday innovation mindset your employees are more likely to spot small issues before they spiral in to larger concerns, or industry trends you may be adhering to for too long, which your competitors are moving away from with tangible results.
With this mindset, your staff are more likely to broaden their personal horizons and working practices to a more inquisitive one that includes studying the commercial advances or stagnation of competing offerings and to engage more with your clients, so as to provide them with the highest levels of relevant product and customer experience.

The culture of innovation has to start within the leadership of your organisation and then instilled in every employee with a sense of common purpose and practice.  Crucially time, reward and resources must be given to individuals to allow them to develop and nurture their ideas, with a view to possible implementation, or at least further discussion.
There is no point in permitting a culture in which individuals or teams can recognise and discuss possible issues, and then not allow them the time to foster, nurture and implement them.
In fact, it could be the most counterproductive tactic you could take, and the fastest route to upsetting and demotivating your staff.

Empowering your workforce with this culture will not only lead to commercial success but enable you to create a challenging and enjoyable place of work, which will allow you to retain your best staff and be a draw to others. This may mean making your culture less risk averse, but if you always play safe, then your results will remain stagnant and innovation stifled.

Fostering a culture of everyday innovation where incremental advances are made steadily and at a manageable and digestible pace will deliver a commercially successful and healthy organisation, which others will want to emulate.

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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