Encouraging Innovation in the Workplace

Innovation is important in businesses large and small. It allows companies to stay ahead of the competition. Markets move fast these days. It is vital to create a process to encourage new ideas, products, and services. Innovation management is about imagining, competing, and mobilizing in new ways. Innovation management team activities such as Planbox’s Shark Tank Competition help foster highly innovative environments within organizations.

The Basics

Innovation is about the introduction of change. It should be favorable, attainable, and lucrative. It can be applied to any field from ideas to products to services. Innovation is about adaptability. As the environment changes so should the process. This means that invariably risks must be taken.

Innovation ideas
Innovation ideas, Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Innovation management involves the process of responding to a vision or opportunity through decisions, practices, and actions that allow the free flow of ideas. Decisions, practices, and actions are aimed at achieving a certain target. Innovation management cycles between the following five stages in a continuous closed process.

  1. Evaluating ideas: This is usually the brainstorming stage. Encourage ideas without getting too far off track. Evaluate ideas for their contribution to the business model, product, service, and target.
  2. Conceptualizing: Once you have evaluated ideas, start developing concepts based on the accepted ideas. Evaluate important criteria like break-in time, returns, and the investment required.
  3. Demonstrating the plan: Now it is time to develop a plan around the concept ultimately formulated in stage two. This plan should be all-encompassing. Once developed, present it to the customer or end-user.
  4. Validating value: This is the stage where you start receiving feedback. Once the user has an opportunity to interact with the demonstrated plan, start collecting data and feedback on the value the customer received. This allows continual improvement of the product creation of new products to fill any gaps.
  5. Development: Now it is time to actually develop the product. Take all the information obtained from the previous four stages to develop a product that accomplishes the target and provides value to the customer.

Building a Team

Successful innovation teams start by selecting a diverse group of individuals who are both analytical and creative. They should have a vast network as well as broad skill sets. When building your innovation team, you are looking for a group of people that can come up with creative ideas for generating revenue and can take those ideas from concept to launch. This can be difficult for companies that have been making the same products for years and are particularly risk-averse. Innovation is necessary for growth, though.

Generating ideas is only part of the process. You want a team with a diverse sum of experiences, skills, professional networks, and academic knowledge. The more diverse the team, the more ideas you will not only be able to generate but be able to bring to fruition. Once a team is assembled, they need a leader. One appointed team leader is optimal. Multiple leaders can lead to inefficient decision-making and gridlock over decisions. A solo leader has more freedom to wholly own the vision and take quicker, more decisive action that keeps projects moving forward. This doesn’t mean that other members of the team shouldn’t be able to step up and have opportunities to take on leadership roles during certain stages of the process. Relevant expertise might require it.

The team should be able to see gaps in the market and market in the gaps. This means the team should be able to generate ideas that address unmet needs. Good innovation goes beyond developing products to fill gaps in the market. Innovative teams develop products that provide value to real customers that exist within the gaps. It is vital to assess the size of any market inside or outside of the gap. Team members must be able to go beyond just analyzing numbers. Individuals that specialize in observing consumer behaviors and generate insights about their unmet needs are invaluable. This prevents innovation in a vacuum. Where ideas are generated without a customer base to support them. Consumer needs and desires help ground and direct ideas.

Innovation management helps businesses stay current and relevant in today’s fast-paced market. Developing a process makes sure that innovation is encouraged while maintaining a direction. After developing some process, start creating a team of diverse individuals. Innovation requires a vast well of knowledge, skill sets, and networks. Appoint a leader that can keep the team on track and take action. When identifying gaps in the market, consider the customer’s needs before filling a gap with products and services that don’t actually meet anyone’s needs.

Anne Lawson is a British writer who keeps her eye on business and trending issues that affect us all. She loves to delve into the real story and give us interesting tidbits we might otherwise miss.