If you look up the meaning of the word “innovation”, you’ll most probably see a simple definition as “the introduction of something new”. While it looks so simple, innovating is never an easy process. But why do modern businesses, including [and especially] startups, race to include this in their organizational planning? When we say innovation, it means to transform your business in order to attain a valuable outcome. Yes, it includes the introduction of something new or the re-imagination of an existing component. Whatever the means, innovation undoubtedly contributes to shaping business growth since the market is changing in rapid strides. Therefore, your strength a few months back may not yield the same productive results today or in the next two months.
Sure enough, organizations with an innovative culture will not lose track. This serves as their competitive edge within the growing population of industry competitors. Today, I’ll share with you the steps that will help your business find that competitive edge through innovation.
1. Assess the limitations of your organization
There are no perfect organizations. I guess we have to acknowledge this as early as possible. Like everyone has their individual limitations, organizations have constraints in terms of talent, resources, and network. It is important to know the limits you have as a team so that you can also do something to keep the operations running despite these boundaries. When you have succeeded in assessing the limitations of the organization, you can have enough time to allocate on creative thinking and brainstorming of ideas to address the possible impacts of the existing restrictions.
2. Keep your eye on the big picture
This is a step taken for granted by most company leaders because they become too occupied with the businesses’ day-to-day operations. In so doing, they lose track of the whole picture. As they focus on accomplishing the daily checklist, they become farther from achieving their long-term goals. Innovation, once and for all, is oriented for extensive outcomes rather than short-range results.
3. Take advantage of technological innovation
There’s no denying that on top of mind upon the mention of the word innovation is the use of emerging technologies. Apart from this is being used by your business competitors, technology makes work more productive and contributes to the general productivity of an organization. To illustrate, internal communication could be more efficient using new applications such as Slack, thereby, making collaboration among teams easier. There are also digital marketing tools that could increase your business presence. All these and more should be tapped by companies in order to have that competitive edge.
4. Welcome different perspectives
Let us not be afraid of what other people can bring to the table. Primarily, we hire people so they can contribute to the organization, so there really is no sense in silencing the thoughts that run in their minds. Who knows, they could have the best idea there is! A brainstorming session every now and then could encourage your members to provide new perspectives so you could develop innovative ideas.
5. Consider new approaches
In line with the previous step, you must also be open to trying different approaches. If you are still the traditional business leader who refuses to change the way things currently are, you should ask yourself if you really deserve to be called a leader. Traditions are good as they have been proven effective through time. Yet, we have to accept that things change, and at a very fast rate, so our methods could be outdated. In fact, this is one of the starting points in acquiring an innovative mindset. You cannot innovate when you stick with the past or the present. To innovate means to think ahead and to think beyond what you have always been doing. It is to acknowledge that something could still be improved. It is also the courage to take risks in order to move forward.
6. Spend time to truly think
Some companies call this a planning session and usually takes it outside of the company (a friend I know hold these meetings at a luxury resort in Tagaytay for a different view and frame of mind). This is important because this is where the ideas slowly develop. When your department heads leave the office tasks behind for a certain period of time, they are not too consumed with deadlines or deliverables for the day; therefore, they find it easier to clear their minds and really think of new strategies to help the organization. Of course, a great nature view is a bonus.
Innovation does not come easy, but the necessity of it cannot be questioned. As a business leader, it’s up to you to make the call to undertake the steps I mentioned above so you can find your competitive edge through innovation.
This is Joey Gurango, your Business Technology Coach!