The very nature of ‘innovation’―‘to invent, to begin to apply new ideas or processes’*―means that it doesn’t fit within the standard measures of business. We like to know what the return on investment (ROI) will be before we spend time and money on a project; it’s good business practice. We require a plan of action with milestones and solid evidence of expected success before we authorise a project to begin; again, good business practice. Yet how can you predict outcomes on a completely new idea?
A brave executive team permits its people the freedom to trial new ideas and processes, to gain valuable new learnings and apply those to the business. This executive team will be well rewarded. Here are some tips to get you there.
Tip #1: Stop seeking traditional business measurements on new concepts
Innovation requires new thinking, tests and trials, progressive adjustments, failures and wins. To demand traditional business measurements of your team is to ask them to falsify information or to use past data that has nothing in common with the new thinking. Consider: what is the cost or risk to your business of not trialling a new idea? Give your team the freedom to experiment, test viability and learn from the innovation process.
Tip #2: Ask: what are we learning?
What you can demand of your team is to document every learning, whether that’s a win or a fail. This new knowledge is a road map for directing innovations, for determining the path your business should take.
Tip #3: Pursue innovations based on value to stakeholders
The key that keeps us in business is the perceived value of our services, products or returns to stakeholders. Innovation doesn’t mean an open cheque book and a lack of accountability. Where new learnings reveal value to stakeholders, direct efforts into those thinkings and processes as a matter of priority. This creates the opportunity to secure ROI as well as enhance stakeholder satisfaction.
In our highly competitive economy, we can’t afford to hobble innovation in our organisations. Room to innovate―to test and trial new thinking, behaviours and processes―must be factored into our annual budgets if we want to be around for the long haul. Businesses that innovate, survive.
Contact us for strategic advice on unleashing innovation in your organisation.
*Collins Australian Dictionary & Thesaurus