I have facilitated many strategic and business plans, and read many more, where either embedded in vision and mission statements or spelt out in goals and objectives, is the desire to “be an innovative company”.
Why? What does this mean? Why is innovation important to your business?
To many businesses, when they say they are “innovative” it just means they are flexible and helpful in their service. You want a cashflow projection when you get your tax done? Sure we can do that. So you want a flexible payment plan after we provide you with our legal services? No problem we can tailor one for you. You want a house built off plan but you need a wall repositioned? No problem.
Well, that’s not innovation, that’s just giving good service!
However to some businesses, innovation is critical to the business’ development and growth – innovation that keeps it one step ahead of the competition; innovation that creates a point of difference; innovation that ensures the business and its staff keep developing and growing. In such businesses you need to build innovation into your business model.
To start with it is important to be clear why innovation is necessary in your business and what you mean by innovation. Your staff need to be clear whether they are required to come up with the cure for cancer or whether it is about small but significant change, say to customer service systems. It is also important to realise that innovation means change, particularly if innovation is to be a constant. Are your staff and systems ready to cope with that? Stress is not conducive to innovation so a madly busy office will not be a hot bed for innovation.