19 Jul De-Mystifying Innovation
It shouldn’t be a mystery that innovation is necessary in order to survive in our current and fast paced marketplace. So, how do you begin to embed a culture of relentless innovation within your organizational DNA? Innovation is not limited by industry, nor is it segregated within an organization; it’s a key element that’s a must for any and all functions within a business that wants to win. The unfortunate reality is that innovation is often a very misunderstood concept. There is a lot more to it than simply creating new products or even improving upon existing ones. To be effective, innovation must be a formal process and be part of the day-to-day operations.
Teams that have woven innovation into every layer of their organization seem to seamlessly always have the foresight to know the direction a market is traveling in and they also are the ones driving industry transformation.
Shaping VS Reacting to the Market
Some of the world’s most brilliant innovators shaped markets by synthesizing new uses for existing technology and products, while others created seemingly brand new marketplaces by introducing new technology and products.
Innovators such as Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Henry Ford (to name a few) did some of both. In each case, we know the name of the prominent leader, but in every case, behind them there was a team designed to relentlessly innovate and win.
Those teams had the ability to:
- Instinctively acquire intelligence on the current market.
- Identify and then prioritize the consumer needs within that market to anticipate demand signal for solutions that would fulfill those needs. For example, the innovators mentioned were able to fulfill the need for better and more reliable transportation, more efficient lighting and providing people the ability to access information at their finger tips while on the go.
- In each case, markets were shaped or created and status quo upended.
Henry Ford described this process brilliantly when he said, “If I had asked people what they needed, they would have said, ‘a faster horse.’” Actually, what society really needed was something that didn’t yet exist, a faster more reliable form of transportation – a low cost automobile within the financial reach of the masses.
To follow in these great innovator’s footsteps, you must build an innovative culture to win by embedding a formalized innovation process within your organization. Let no idea go unturned and empower your organization to relentlessly shape markets and create new ones. A great place to start is to adopt the best practices from the most successfully innovative teams.
Relentlessly Innovate with Purpose
Innovation and collaboration within your organization must be done purposefully at every level and within every functional team. It must be part of the culture.
The following are just some of the key attributes in creating an effective innovation process:
- Each functional area within a business must be part of the innovation process – from back office administration, customer facing, all the way to R&D.
- Individuals and teams must strive to be accountable for being world-class subject matter expert in these functional areas.
- There must also be individuals or teams who are accountable for looking well outside their functional areas for ways to synthesize emergent technology and new ways to fill customer needs—especially in areas where the customer does not know they have a need for a new product yet. See Henry Ford, Steve Jobs.
- There must be a cross-pollination process between teams. Some of the best ideas from your functional area may come from outside that area.
- Barriers to innovation are plenty. Ultimately it boils down to creating psychological safety within the team so all ideas, even those that are ultimately discarded are encouraged and vetted—people need to feel safe to keep the ideas flowing.
- Innovation is continual and has to be part of the day-to-day operations. One-off “innovation day” programs do not work by themselves. Briefing and debriefing day to day business activities is a great place to start—the best do it habitually.
- Someone must be accountable for making the process itself work. Normally, not the boss. It takes a skill and some experience to be able to set up and facilitate an effective innovation process where none existed before. A good facilitator can achieve great results, even when they do not have actual authority over the any of the functional areas. Find one and put them in charge.
If your organization does not have a process that includes a majority of these best practices, the time to act is now.
The Solution? Procure an Innovation Architect
The good news is with proper planning and good facilitation, you can clearly embed market-based innovation into your organization and make it instinctive in a relatively short period of time. CATSHOT Group has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries to implement a lasting and resilient innovation process. We can help make innovation part of your culture too.
We’d love the opportunity to share our collective best practices culture of innovation best practices to help your organization become market drivers. Learn more about how CATSHOT Group can help your organization embed a culture of relentless innovation today!