Many businesses begin with a great idea that turns into something viable. Entrepreneurs and business owners understand the importance of creative ideas. But the world is filled with people with great ideas. Without action to put those ideas to work, no real progress occurs. Action brings creativity to life.
In the last article in this series, we discussed how to facilitate the creative process. Creative individuals can bring a breath of fresh air to your company, but investing in creativity is just the beginning, really. The real work comes when you put creative ideas to work. Innovation is creativity in action.
Benefits of Innovation
Innovation can be scary for a business. Unlike creativity, failure in innovation can come at a cost. However, that should not discourage a company from change. Companies like P&G, Apple, Google prove that a culture of innovation can bring great reward.
There’s a misconception that a culture of innovation is more important for companies creating tangible goods for consumers. The reality is that innovation comes in many forms, including improving or overhauling processes in order to better support your company goals.
How to Begin
There’s no use sinking time and money into an idea without a concrete plan. Innovation within a company, especially as part of a corporate culture, requires a strategy. A good strategy employs clear and dedicated ideas in order to reach a desired goal. An innovation strategy is no different than any other business plan. You need to carefully develop it in a way that integrates all departments. The strategy should include how departments will work together to achieve an innovative goal. While each department has its own processes and tasks, they should all be allied to achieve objectives that drive the company forward.
While it may seem obvious, it’s worth mentioning that a good innovation strategy is one that is unique to a business. You can’t copy and paste one from one business to another. Strategy design depends on each business’ function and overall goals. There should be a fair amount of pick and pull from various design practices as well as some creative adjustments to fit an innovative system that will improve the corporate structure and functions. Designing a corporate culture of innovation is a multi-faceted process, but you need to address a few key points.
- Have a strategy fit for each department that builds toward a common goal.
- Be clear in all objectives so that the innovation wheels are turning together.
- Meet with employees, leaders, and departments to address the specific needs of each.
- Be open to new ideas and open to failure.
For more on developing a strategy, see Gary Pisano’s article, You Need an Innovation Strategy.