Understanding Innovation

Understanding Innovation

Understanding InnovationInnovation is everywhere. People want to innovate, companies are being told to innovate and investors want to invest in innovators.

But what does this mean? How do you do it and what are the benefits?

How about this for a start?

‘Innovation is simply change that adds value through design & engineering’.

That works for me in the context of my world and is something I have been preaching for many a year, but we can drill down further.

There is a simple reason for the interest in innovation. What is popular and current right now, will inevitably be swamped with competition in time. As a company, you need to be asking where next?

With the tools available today, it is easier than ever to engage with existing and potential customers, so ask a few questions?

Don’t just rely on the customer though…… What is the vision of the company, the team you work with on a daily basis? What would they like to see change? No company will survive if the answer is ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it here’.

One major misconception is that innovation is about a single idea. In the first instance it’s about a way of thinking to uncover opportunity that may develop into an idea. Sorry to burst your lightbulb, but ideas need fertile ground to spawn. They don’t just appear. So to kick things off you need to pull the team together and get talking!

As a designer, I have been asked to facilitate many discussions to really uncover the potential of a company and the market they operate in. For some this takes the fear out of starting, which happens to be one of the biggest barriers to embracing innovation in the first place.

When you embrace the spirit of innovation, the culture of a company can change. It becomes optimistic and fun. Think about holding monthly meetings with team feedback on what’s new this month!

Aside from the potential to uncover a new offering to your market, the benefits will cascade through the business. Communication will be better, the business and the team will have more energy and the company may just identify a whole new direction.

If you think this is for you, then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who are my customers and do they want more than we are currently offering?
  2. Do the team know where the company is going and what do they think?
  3. Are we ready to explore the full potential of our company?

One last thing. It is common for a company (of any size) to say they don’t have the budget for innovation. My answer is, if you have the motivation to make change and an innovative opportunity presents itself, then the money will be there.

So what’s stopping you?


4c Design