Nowadays when we talk about business, companies, money, processes, and everything else, we always turn to innovation. Improve internal process? Innovation. Make a new software to cut and automatize processes? Innovation. Make more money or save more money? Innovation.
All knowledge areas talk about innovation. Cientists always look for innovation to get new formulas, theories and progress. Banking people innovate to get bigger profit margins. Architects innovate on construction to find cheaper and more resistant materials. IT professionals innovate to make faster systems that make user experiences more and more immersive.
Once all areas have to innovate, what new and traditional companies do to make that possible? How to foster an innovative environment? What results can be expected from which kind of innovation?
The hierarchy kills innovation. Face that. The person who is suggesting the innovation cannot rely on judgement of another 4 or 5 people above his hierarchical level until the idea reach those who will really understand it.
The faster incremental innovations well succeeded are those who research for consumer behaviour. It’s a quick innovation, it’s inside every user of your tool. You just have to ask for it. It cannot wait for hierarchy.
People are afraid of getting their ideas ahead because they think they will be judged. They are afraid of the feedback in case their idea is not good. When there are too many steps to be “won”, the idea will die without reaching the ears of whoever really matters. Given that, let’s get to the next step.
Have many ears
I’ve seen many clients being proud and saying “we created an innovation area!” with big budgets! I’ve already seen the “innovation area” be the new name for R&D team (Research and Development). I recognize the innovation has to start somehow, but restricting the ears only to the voices coming from the innovation area is dangerous. Yes, it’s a step, but just that. If it’s the way to start, let’s go!
But always keep in mind that small companies with few employees don’t have innovation areas:
- Nubank has a department called “Wow! Factor”. As the name suggests, their goal is to create experiences to impress their customer. But their innovation doesn’t come only from the “Wow! Factor” department.
- Your scenario is a big company? Think about Google. With thousands of employees, 20% of their time is free for them to work on their own ideas.
- Ok… Google’s business model allow them to have idle time because their money factory is automatized? Cool, let’s take a look at Apple. It sells hardware, it’s a factory. It’s one of the most innovative companies in world.
Encourage intra entrepeneurship
The final objective is to innovate, but the innovation only will come when people think outside the box. To think outside the box they have to feel comfortable and understand they have freedom to suggest ideias and they won’t be cutted.
Focus on “How”, not on “What”
An idea whose owner judges awesome, but after evaluation be discarded, requires much care:
- If the owner don’t get any feedback in a fair time, they will demotivate. Don’t let him into limbo.
- If the owner don’t get convinced about the reasons why their idea won`t be taken ahead, he will demotivate. Don’t let him without explanations.
- Help the owner to identify the main idea. If more scenarios over their idea are not explored, they can demotivate. Help him to understand that creating a new credit card is a way to solve something, but the innovation can be if he looks for new payment methods.
There is not how-to here. It depends only on you. Big consulting companies will have ready models, costing millions of dollars about how implementing “digital transformation” i.e. It won’t work. Your culture won’t allow it to work. Innovation is incremental. It won’t have preset costs and schedule. Nothing is invented and evolved at the same time (beautiful sentence, not invented by me).
Think by yourself how to start. Establish plans, go for innovation theories and how the innovation happens. Once you get how the innovation happens, you will conclude where to start. Suggestions: Lean, design journey, agile software development methodologies.