Zoe Aitken (main photo) is the head of consulting at leading behavioural science and innovation consultancy Inventium. In this guest post, Aitken offers her top tips for businesses and agencies looking to innovate…
One of the most common challenges that our clients face when trying to drive innovation, is that people in their organisation view it as separate to the core business. They view innovation as competition for valuable resources which are required for business-critical activities. And because of this, innovation is often put on the backburner to protect and prioritise ‘Business-As-Usual’ (BAU) initiatives. However, this misconception of innovation is extremely limiting and exposes a business to significant risk. The truth is, innovation has never been more business critical than right now.
During what is one of the most volatile and uncertain periods’ that businesses have ever had to navigate, innovation is a critical tool for survival. Businesses are being forced by necessity to quickly change and adapt to survive the current COVID storm. Whether that be, for example, adapting to remote working, optimising new internal systems and processes, developing new delivery and supply chains or tweaking existing products and services. All these changes are exactly what innovation is all about.
Innovation can be defined as ’change that adds value’. And without the ability to change and adapt quickly, across all areas of a business, survival is unlikely.
The most successful organisations, that have a proven track-record of innovation, have fostered an innovation mindset across their entire business. They use it to both support BAU as well as new growth initiatives. In these organisations, innovation is not viewed as a separate function or just about New Product Development (NPD), but rather is seen as a tool that anyone in the business can draw on to solve day-to-day challenges. Whether that be in areas such as HR, Supply-chain, Manufacturing or even Finance.
Only when innovation becomes an organisation-wide mindset, can its true impact be realised. Employees across the entire business need to feel empowered and equipped to identify opportunities and make value-creating changes. Particularly in the current environment, when all aspects of a business are needing to adapt, this is absolutely critical.
So, where do you start in building an organisation-wide approach to innovation? It’s definitely a journey, however, here are three critical first steps that you can take:
- Start with your business leaders. Innovation must be supported from the top, so take the time to educate and align your leaders on the what, why and how of innovation within your organisation. Your leaders must feel a sense of ownership over innovation so that they can empower their teams to innovate.
Be sure to involve leaders across all areas of the business so that you’re sending the right message from the start; that innovation is relevant to everyone, regardless of function.
- Second, if you don’t already have one, set up a consistent and known approach to innovation across your organisation. Embedding an organisation-wide innovation process (i.e. not just a process for NPD) ensures that innovation becomes both repeatable and sustainable. And that everyone in the business knows what to do if they have a value-creating idea.
Think about and outline the key steps involved in your innovation process from opportunity identification right through to implementation. For each stage communicate the parameters, key roles and responsibilities and decision-making criteria.
- Finally, build the team’s innovation capabilities. It’s hard to expect people to innovate if they don’t have the right skills to do so. Invest in training up a cross-functional group of people in innovation tools and techniques so that they can champion and facilitate innovation across the business.
Specifically, build team capabilities around how to identify innovation opportunities, creativity and idea generation, as well as experimentation.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that innovation is optional right now. Investing in innovation will not only ensure that you survive the current tumultuous times, but that you are able to identify the big opportunities that will catapult your business out the other side.
Sydney-based design and technology studio Nightjar have launched a new website for Sneaker Freaker. Founded in 2002, the street culture magazine is the first and only international footwear magazine. From its roots as a DIY-style fanzine to today’s global coverage, its print pages and online platforms document every colab, custom, limited edition, retro reissue, Quickstrike, Hyperstrike […]
Haystac’s former National Head of Strategy, Haylie Marchant (pictured) has launched The PR Toolkit – an online resource and DIY PR platform educating and empowering small and medium sized businesses to do their own PR. Offering a mix of free resources and easy-to-use how to guides, the one-stop-shop for DIY PR covers media relations, media […]
One Love Australia has launched a new social change initiative that will see a raft of high profile individuals, including former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Boost Juice’s founder, Janine Allis, take part in a video interview series set to turn racism on its head. The initiative – titled #ShareThePlatform – will see these […]
Resolution Digital has been awarded the Australia’s Agency of the Quarter award in the prestigious Google Honours program. The Honours program for 2020 recognises the achievements of the very best performance marketing agencies and providers across Australia and New Zealand. The program consists of 3 quarters, 43 agencies and over 500 individuals; measured on account […]
Firefly has brought on six major new clients as it continues to expand, adding new media planning and buying arm to its business. Managing Director Andrew Mathwin (pictured) said the independent agency, known for clients such as Air New Zealand, Buy West Eat Best, West Coast Eagles and Mrs Mac’s Pies, had a strong year […]
Independent communications consultancy The Mint Partners has bolstered its integrated client roster and signed a number of premium lifestyle brands to kick start the new financial year. With an array of new products, services, and a focus on insight-led and creative integrated communications, MINT has enjoyed recent success with an expanded portfolio across new categories including fintech, […]