A common question asked by many business leaders and entrepreneurs is “How do I create innovations in my business?” Most people asking this question are looking to expand an existing business or launch a new product or service. I have created the acronym IDEA to describe a system for creating and applying innovation in any business.
I – Identify All Innovations. Understand where and how to create innovations – through brainstorming sessions, problem solving exercises, creating an innovation mindset and other techniques. You also need a system to record these innovations. Even if the recording system merely captures the title or a one sentence description of the innovation – you must capture this information. Provide a simple way for everyone in the company to record or submit their creative ideas. By keeping the innovation submission process simple, you will not “lose” innovative ideas because the submission process is perceived as a burden.
D – Develop An Innovation Culture. Get people throughout your organization (including yourself) to make innovation part of their daily thought process. By providing examples of other innovations and encouraging the submission of creative ideas, your business develops a culture of innovation. When people understand the value of innovations and look for innovations throughout the company, you produce a steady stream of valuable ideas. Teach people to look for innovations when solving problems, and think of ways to use that solution to avoid future problems.
E – Evaluate All Innovations. Create an Innovation Review Group to evaluate innovations submitted by company personnel. This Innovation Review Group should include people with different job functions, such as sales, marketing, product development, customer support, etc. People with different job functions will have different perspectives on the innovations and can help evaluate creative ideas by applying a cost-benefit analysis. Also, innovations may have an impact on a particular department that is not anticipated by personnel in other departments.
A – Action. Don’t just create lists of innovations – Take Action to implement the innovations that have the most potential value to the company. Track the results, such as increased income, reduced expenses and customer growth, and share the positive results throughout the company. These positive results will encourage further innovative thinking and provide wonderful examples of successful innovation.
Start applying the IDEA system today to position your business as an innovator in your market. This system does not need to be complicated or time-consuming. But, you must get started.
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