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Innovation Is the Life Blood of Every Business - Encouraging Innovation at Work

June 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 122

In many companies, innovation is limited to departments such as "Product Development". All too often, operational and "back office" departments have little incentive to innovate. Employees in operational departments are unlikely to have an opportunity to be creative, and their ability to innovate remains unrecognised by management.

By considering aspects of the business where there may be scope for innovation, management are better placed to encourage it among employees.

New commercial opportunities and revenue streams

Traditionally the responsibility of the sales and marketing functions, organisations are missing a trick if they do not encourage all employees to look for and suggest commercial opportunities.

Product improvement within existing market

Encourage employees, their friends and family who use the product / service themselves to give feedback. It is essential that employees who offer feedback feel they are listened to by management.What suggestions are made? Do people use a competitor's product? Why is that? This is market research at no cost to the organisation.

Solutions to meet urgent or changing delivery requirements

Innovation extends beyond the scope of one organisation. Here innovation is important, because there is scope to improve business performance and eliminate waste for trading partners, (customers and suppliers). Innovation between organisations can streamline delivery, reduce waste, reduce order cycle time, improve order fulfilment etc. Management must understand that for innovation to be successful and optimised, employees must have chance to openly discuss their ideas with representatives from equivalent departments of the other company.

Opportunities within terms and conditions

This opportunity is often overlooked by small businesses. Larger organisations, with savvy in-house legal teams are all too aware of the opportunities that exist within the small print.

Manufacture and process innovations

Here innovation is usually driven by a need to improve quality and reduce costs. Benchmarking with other industries can be a catalyst for process innovation. If possible, employees should have the opportunity to visit other (non-competitor) organisations to share ideas. In their own departments, managers should listen out for comments such as, "We've always done it that way..." indicating a process may be outdated or has scope for automation.

Cross-departmental innovation

Management should encourage innovation which enables different departments to achieve targets. Good communication is essential, and inter-departmental politics must be put aside. Example: A purchasing department with a high stock problem on a particular item can work in conjunction with sales / marketing to run special offers which in turn boost sales.

Revisiting earlier ideas and suggestions

Do not overlook innovation which has already taken place, but has not been pursued. Often good ideas are not acted upon, because of costs associated with implementing them. Management must be aware that advances in technology, including the rise of social networks and the changes in the global economy can mean that "pre-existing innovation" is now worth pursuing, due to lower costs-to-market. When revisiting earlier ideas, management should actively involve "tech savvy" employees, and those with inbound marketing skills.

Optimise business performance

Those with responsibility for Business Development must take a holistic approach to managing innovation across their organisation.

Managers can encourage innovation by taking the time to get to know their team members as individuals. By understanding the aptitudes, interests and experiences of employees, outside of their normal working role, and then encouraging the use of these skills within the organisation, value is added to an organisation.

Employees feel encouraged to innovate if the organisational culture is positive and proactive. If innovation does not appear to be taking place, there may be issues with the organisation's culture that must be addressed.

Kathryn Snodgrass considers innovation to be a vital aspect of business development. Kathryn enjoys working with businesses to help them innovate and develop.

Contact Kathryn for help with business development, strategy and finding innovative opportunities.

Leave a message for Kathryn at her company website.

Source: EzineArticles
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