Christopher Melotti, marketer, author and copywriter, shares his eight tips for engaging people inside (employees) and outside (customers) your organisation to inspire business innovation.
Humans are naturally curious beings. It’s hard wired into our DNA. We seek to learn and discover in all areas that interest us, every single day. If we come across an obstacle or something that baffles us, we find creative ways to overcome them in order to improve our position. Well, organisations are full of these curious human beings! Businesses need to find a way to harness this curiosity, give them a voice to explore and share their curiosity, and ultimately reward them for their efforts. Curiosity naturally gives birth to innovative thinking.
Facilitate Unscripted Gaming
Just like humans are naturally curious, humans are also unpredictable and intuitive, and so encouraging a playful environment where both employees and/or customers are allowed to experiment with contextual scenarios can produce new ways of looking at a problem and solving it. Acting out a situation, observing and playing with the variables can uncover new approaches and opportunities unseen before by traditional methods.
Tap Into Intuition
When performing a duty or role day-in, day-out, you begin to discover your own beliefs and develop your own unique style. It’s this instinctual, gut-feeling that can be quite insightful into how to be more innovative with the task, and thus potentially improve it. An organisation sometimes just needs to ask for employee feedback into certain roles, or a customer on buying behaviour, and the person if often more than willing to share. Hunches and personal beliefs can frequently cut through well-entrenched convention and produce advantageous outcomes.
Working Cooperatively and Diversely
One single person doesn’t possess an ultimate set of skills or insights. Those lacking can be offset by adding more people to the mix, working collaboratively. Innovation can be tapped into by consulting a wide range of contributors, rather than just upper management or one segment of consumers. The more angles and differing backgrounds allowed to offer their own insight on a particular concept or method, the wider the blend of creative ideas which may lead to a breakthrough. Often, simply asking someone who brings a fresh set of eyes to the table can be the essential catalyst needed to shake things up.
Allowing For Risk and Failure
This was touched on above, but needs to be reiterated here. An organisation cannot expect to have a successful innovative culture if the occasional, yet inevitable risk or failure is not embraced. Playing it too safe is anti-innovative, and so to encourages new ways of thinking in order to tap into new opportunities, people must be able to actually give it a shot. Besides, failure comes with the added bonus of learning from mistakes.
Tying in with curiosity and intuition, the next step is having courage to be different. Innovation is straying from the norm, and that takes guts. They key to unlocking innovative potential requires the fostering of an environment which inspires people to challenge themselves and the standard.
Promote Innovative Continuity
Innovation is not a short term response to a difficult month or trend, it’s a culture that should be well ingrained into the organisation indefinitely. One single good idea will not keep an organisation competitive forever, it must be followed up with even newer and better ideas. An organisation should encourage innovation at all times, be supportive of those willing to contribute and facilitate a business-wide philosophy of thinking outside the square.
The Marketing Department’s role in innovation
Due to the role and the position marketing plays in an organisation, it’s always a good place to actively participate in innovative thinking and methods. The nature of a solid marketing strategy encourages flexibility which engenders a healthy breeding ground of fresh thinking and different approaches to old problems. Every day, something new and exciting comes along, and if each opportunity is given value and the marketing department is empowered to be more adventurous, this is a step in the right direction.
This is not to say that other departments cannot be innovative. In fact, the best type of organisation is one that is flexible at all levels of operation, whether it be the sales department attempting to discover a new point of customer contact, or accounts payable endeavouring to utilise new software to cut down excessive administration time. However, marketing is emphasised in this context as it is the main area of a business which looks out at the market horizon and must respond to opportunities and threats most frequently within turbulent external environments.
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