In addition to creating an encouraging atmosphere, management must create some procedures to channel the innovation process. Although unstructured thoughts are necessary for brainstorming, they can lead to missed opportunities and wasted resources in the innovation process.
The innovation process must be reasonably well structured
First, management must create an environment to encourage idea generation. This requires focus in particular areas of interest, so that there is not a dilution of concentration. Second, the team must brainstorming for ideas using the rule that there are no bad ideas. The reason for this is really quite simple. If we judge ideas from brainstorming, we will discourage the creative thinking needed for truly creative thought. As a result, we will likely limit the effectiveness of the brainstorming and, more importantly, the synergy of idea development. Often someone’s off-the-wall idea will stimulate a creative idea in someone else’s mind that will be the winner.
The innovation process is usually driven by demand driven
It is usually responding to the needs and preferences of the customer. While structured to a point, it is nevertheless chaotic at times, often delivering the unexpected. In the normal course of business, the logical, organized types of people often excel and prevail. The type of people needed for true innovation, however, are those who are firebrands and free thinkers. Their ideas often create suspicion and opposition (i.e.We’ve never done it that way before!). Furthermore, to be successful, the process often requires crusaders and those who will champion a project with passion and drive.
These ideas do not need to be focused on the products or services the company presents to the market place
They can be directed to the internal processes of the company as well. Productivity improvements, internal process improvements, quality improvements are all fair game for this process. Any appropriate way to lower costs, increase quality and respond better and more quickly help obtain and retain customers. Totally different products or services that utilize your strategic competencies should also be considered.
Setting an atmosphere in which innovation is encouraged often leads to long term success. Each of the elements explained above is critical to the effective innovation process. Challenge yourself and your senior management team to develop the skills and the atmosphere for effective innovation. Finally, make innovation part of your ongoing strategic planning. It is highly probable that your long term survival and viability depend on it.
Note: This post is the final post in a series of posts from Dana Baldwin’s article Creating an Environment for Innovation. First, we discussed how atmosphere fostors innovation. Second, we discussed how internal communication encourages innovation. Third, we discussed how challenges motivate innovation. Fourth, we discussed possible sources of ideas. Attend the Simplified Strategic Planning Seminar to learn more about this and other aspects of Simplified Strategic Planning.
M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2018 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attributionn this series will discuss how challenges can encourage innovation.