Tactics to make innovation happen in your business

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You wish you could erase the first part of the year 2020. Covid-19 struck without asking for permission. It is no longer business as usual.

 

Would this season birth a new area of disruption in business, education, religion, health care, and other facets of life?

 

Instead of innovating, many businesses are waiting for bailouts, and can’t wait for everything to come back to normal. Shouldn’t we be innovating with our present realities?  I was thinking of what my next article would be about but before I could finish that thought, It dawned on me-we all need to learn how to innovate.

 

Companies list innovation as part of their core values because it looks and sounds fancy without the intention to do the work.

 

QUOTE:

“We cannot solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  Albert Einstein.

 

What is innovation?

New ways to see opportunity others don’t and packaging them into products or services people are willing to pay for.

We need to be disruptive in our thinking for innovation to happen. A brilliant idea well executed is not only driven by the awesomeness of the idea, but also by the effective strategy to execute.

We are in a period in history where change is drastic. There is no time to waste. You either control the narrative or join the crowd waiting for the business to return to normal.

 

What is the difference between change management and innovation? Or are they the same?

Change management: understanding how the world around us is moving. Innovation is how you can make the change happen.  It is really about capturing and doing.

 

Do you have the tactics to turn ideas into reality?

 Here are some insights or tactics you might find helpful.

 

1. Embrace failure:

One of the many reasons we don’t innovate is the fear of failure. What if you could celebrate your failures?

Heard of Fuckup nights?  I have been massaging the idea to bring them to Ghana for more than two years together with my now Founder Institute Accra co-director Simon Turner.

Fuck up nights – Networking events in 90 countries where people share stories of failure.

 

Failure is a part of innovation. I know how to fail, but then I get wiser and become a better business person each time I experience failure. Now I call them experiments, not failure.

A framework to drive innovation from your failure.

Admitting to mistakes and learning from them will translate into deeper insights for your business and markets. Having employees and co-workers talk about failure in pervious/current projects can spark innovation in a way that success cannot.

Viewing your failures as portals to innovation will allow you to map out strategies to benefit from them.

 

DO YOU KNOW?

Alexander Fleming’s discovered penicillin in a petri dish he forgot to throw out

2. A culture that encourages sharing ideas.

Business leaders need to create a conducive environment for innovation to thrive at all levels.  How do you do that?

 

Employees need to feel like they belong. Instil a sense of ownership.

They need to see your overall business goals as an extension or at least some sort of connection to their personal life goals.  You will be amazed by how much creative energy you can amass by finding parallels. People love to discover different ways of thinking about their work. They get bored when we do those same old brainstorming sessions where one person does most of the talking and everyone else is just listening. Spice up your brainstorming sessions by having different people lead each time. Give them a reason, a clear sense of why having regular brainstorming sessions is a part of your innovation strategy if it is.

Have an idea bank. It could be physical space or a folder on Google Drive/DropBox/One Drive where you can drop your ideas anytime.

 

3. Dare to be different:

Challenge what is normal.  Market research before getting into business is created, but what if you could create a whole new market because you showed up?

Airbnb, Amazon, Uber, The Boring Company are examples of companies that challenged the status quo and dared to be different. The role of innovators and entrepreneurs is to challenge received wisdom.

Draw up a list of assumptions by the market, or by employees, rank them by how certain the source believes them to be true and important, ask your employees to question the assumptions and experiment on some of them to validate them.

 

4. Consumer Insights:

I am sure you know I am a big fan of ‘The Customer is the King”

You focus on the need, not the product. You become immersed in the minds of your customers, looking for ways to expand demand. Your business strategy is driven by the marketplace. Do you know the difference between what you make and what people need?

Amazon does very well in this jurisdiction. AWS has so many data insights. All of Netflix data sits on Amazon Web Services. I am willing to bet on the emergence of Amazon Prime as a result of studying Netflix consumer data.

Companies must spend enough time on insight generation, insights activation (sharing and acting on customer/market, the understanding gained from research) in marketing, R&D and innovation platforms so it can constantly respond to market opportunities and unexpected threats.

 

Share your thoughts with me on this article. Good luck with innovating in your business this Month.

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