Innovation appears to be at the forefront of many businesses now. Thanks mainly to technological advancements. And various factors causing industry disruption. e.g., digital networks which are interlinking large organisations and people at a vast rate.
However, at a time when collaboration across organisations is increasing, there is also a rise in business R&D. Large, international organisations such as Bell Labs & PARC were once major R&D players. Eventually however, such departments became outsourced. Largely thanks to the digital revolution.
R&D is seeing something of a turnaround. Businesses such as Amazon and Microsoft heavily rely on R&D. Particularly for the advancement of emerging technologies. E.g. artificial intelligence.
As such, it has never been more important to utilise R&D as much as possible. And also reduce creative barriers for staff.
In this article, Angelina Bell, a small business coach based in Darlington, County Durham, presents a number of ideas. That can help you build a culture of innovation within your business.
Encourage staff to innovate and collaborate. The tone and philosophy set by your company can encourage innovation and collaboration. Encourage your staff to take responsibility for key objectives. As well as areas of focus, capability and commitment. E.g. if you are a scientific company, try not to restrict your staff with budgets and deadlines. Instead, give them full accountability for the final product.
There is a social aspect to innovation. E.g. certain people will want to work alongside interesting and exciting people. Which further builds a greater sense of innovation energy. It is important to encourage new staff to work together. As they may have solved similar problems. Which not only helps speed up innovation. But also reduces wasted time.
It is sometimes necessary to go against hierarchy. Sometimes, a hierarchy can be a huge obstacle to creativity. And can really slow down the innovation process. This can be discouraged easily in an organisation. And the benefit can potentially be huge. E.g. Someone in your organisation may have an idea for a new invention. However, they may not have the necessary knowledge or resources around them. As such, make sure they have the resources to go ahead.
Encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking. People in organisations should be encouraged to think outside the box. Also, it is sometimes necessary to encourage and push forward existing ideas in your team. E.g. One of your scientists may claim they can develop the efficiency of a technology by 20%. Why not try and push 60% efficiency? Clearly, the individual in question may be startled somewhat. However, they may become more eager to achieve that goal. Although 60% may be initially unrealistic, it opens up possibilities that were not raised in the first place.
Avoid overstretching project resources. It is no secret that companies lacking good ideas and projects can quickly go downhill. However, having plenty of projects whilst lacking the staff to complete them can be equally damaging. Ultimately, there could be no sense of ownership, the project becomes delayed and everyone becomes irritable. As such, a good rule of thumb is to be involved in two projects at once. Only being involved in one project at a time can lead to boredom. Whereas completing three projects at once can be too much. Another advantage of only being involved in two projects is that if the first project stalls, more effort can be invested temporarily into the other.
Develop relationships outside your organisation. Employees can build many strong connections with each other in a business. However, this is also true of external connections. And these connections benefit both parties as each can offer their skills as and when required. Or collaborative working. Such techniques can also lead onto other advancements. E.g. scientists at Corning solved the problem of bending optical fibres in a small space with little performance loss. As such, collaboration with other companies led to the huge breakthrough of ‘fiber in the home’. A worldwide implementation.
Innovation requires a range of great people. In the past, it was the case that R&D could be successful by utilising one great scientist on a top profile project. This approach is no longer valid today. Instead, people must now be willing to work between multiple projects as and when necessary. Problem solving becomes easier. and the development process becomes quicker. These types of people are constantly pushing for improvements and are able to sense what is happening within their area. And practically apply the problems.
Are you looking to implement a culture of innovation within your business? Angelina Bell is an experienced business coach that has worked with businesses keen to innovate and be at the cutting edge. Why not book a 45 minute chat today with Angelina Bell and see how she can help?