Innovation is what keeps companies going. Even when a company makes the same product over the years, innovation is what will help keep the company relevant and competitive in the market.
Innovation in most businesses is a product of portfolio of myriad ideas and knowledge sources. Companies should regularly generate pool of ideas both internally and externally. It would be surprising to find how much of wealth of ideas and resources are in members of the company when they begin to unlock. A company called 3M famous is known for encouraging employees to spend 15% of their time developing their own ideas.
External sources of idea include; customers, suppliers, competitors, potential partners, educational institutions etc. Even companies with policies that disallow external acquisition of knowledge could have network of relationships or partnerships for generating ideas. This would help supplement and support internal sources of ideas, because really no man is an island.
A good way of generating ideas is to inject fresh minds by employing young fresh people.
It is important for companies to be able to adapt to change; this is how innovation can thrive. Maintaining rigid procedures which have once produced successful results may lead to monotony and even stagnation. Successful companies often develop routines and processes which have been helpful in the past. However, it often becomes difficult to change as the business environment and market demands are evolving. This leads to unnecessary rigidity and even loss of their market share and dominance. The challenge for most companies is the ability to be flexible and discard their traditions, methods and relationships which have yielded positive results in the past.
Telecoms companies in Nigeria recognize this principle, that is why the focus has moved from calls to data. They have realized that people prefer to chat more on platforms like Whatsapp, BBM etc than to make calls. So they are revolving services around data.
Unlearning exposes long-standing assumptions and beliefs underlying business models to scrutiny and objective questioning.
The process of selection involves selecting the best ideas out of the pool. In many organisations proposals are selected based on the ones that preserve existing procedures and amplifies standing legacies. However, innovation involves stepping out of the dogma to start something new; innovative companies have open minds to try out promising ideas and are willing to invest their resources into it. That is the way entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley attract venture capitalists.
Selection encompasses rewarding good efforts at generating ideas so as to encourage more efforts in future.
An adaptation of Mrs Awosika’s articles in “Business His Way”