The 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), hosted by the White House, is currently being held for the seventh year running. This popular annual gathering of business leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials and mentors from across the globe is designed to foster entrepreneurship and help build relationships so that global challenges can be tackled together.
As part of the event (held at Stanford University this year), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently addressed a packed Memorial Auditorium on the need for business people worldwide to “devise creative solutions“ for a wide variety of global issues, including transportation, education, healthcare and clean energy.
With the event being held at Stanford, an institution known for its innovative culture and successes, and Kerry’s comments about the need for creativity in business if issues are to be addressed, it’s a good reminder that all successful modern entrepreneurs must have a focus on innovation in this day and age.
If it’s time for your organization to get more creative and foster out-of-the-box thinking, or if you want to bring some more innovative ideas to your business studies, read on for some tips you can follow today.
Be Clear on Your Business, Customers, Industry and Innovation Type
A key to staying truly innovative in the workplace is knowing your business inside and out. You should be clear on:
- Exactly what business you’re in. What problems you solve for your customers
- How your venture is different from the competition
- What type of customers you have, including what, how and when they buy
- What the state is of your industry. If there are any particular regulations that will affect what you can create.
Understanding these areas will help you to see what type of innovation strategy to follow. The information will make it easier to identify if you should be creating new products or services based on customer insights, emerging market trends, a gap in the market, a change in the law or other regulation, new technology, or a customer need that isn’t currently being fulfilled.
As well, you should ascertain whether your main aim in innovating is actually to attract more users to your current product or service, or if you need to devise new uses for your current offerings. Your innovation process, and the way in which you allocate resources for it, will tend to be significantly affected by all of the data you analyze.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
If you really want to operate an innovative company then it’s important for you and your team to be willing to take risks and try different things. To discover creative new products, services, or ways of doing things, you need to experiment and take continual small steps forward in order to glean insights.
Remember that each thing you try will product valuable feedback on the right or wrong ways to proceed. No experiments will work all the time, so you have to be prepared to take risks and face uncertainty as you go. The only way not to make any mistakes is to never try anything new, and that certainly won’t help you in the innovation stakes. Keep in mind that mistakes aren’t signs of failure; they’re really just signs of pushing boundaries.
Make Room for Creative Thinking in Your Work Week
Similarly, innovation just won’t be possible unless you and your team have time available to actually stop and think creatively.
Running from one job to the next tends to stifle the creative juices and won’t leave you enough mental room to see the world, your business, or your products and services in a new light.
It pays to take a leaf out of the book of some of the largest companies on the planet (such as Google), who give team members dedicated time every week to work on their own side projects. This chance for reflection and trial and error is always very conducive for insights, and for many companies is the time when most new products, services or processes are created.
Ensure the Company Culture Supports Innovation
Lastly, you’ll never have innovation front of mind in a business unless it is encouraged to be so by the leaders. Employees must feel supported in their creative endeavors and not afraid of mistaking mistakes if they are to come up with innovations.
The whole leadership team should have a shared vision that focuses on innovation. This vision should then be clearly communicated to, and discussed with, the rest of the workers. There should be rewards for creative ideas, no matter their results, and staff members should be encouraged to work together in a culture of cooperation and collaboration in order to spark off each other. After all, the better a corporate culture is, the more likely it is that employees will feel free enough to innovate.