People love to talk about innovation to the extent that saying “People love to talk about innovation” has become a cliché in itself. The word is being used way more than it will ever be acted on – it has been degraded to a dreaded buzzword.
That’s a shame, obviously. Innovation should be treated as an important activity of a company, just as marketing and sales are. We should talk about it as a series of separate behaviours and actions. So let’s stop this nonsense buzz around innovation and find out how it can actually be implemented within different pipelines every day.
Where’s the problem?
To put it simply – just like the Miss World contestants always want world peace, the term ‘’Innovation’’ has become the canned response by managers to the question ‘‘What do we need to be successful?’’. As Wired states, the word has been overused to the point that a discussion has become circular, “to be innovative, we have to encourage innovation.”
Should we then discard ‘‘innovation’’ and move on to other business development strategies? NO, absolutely not. As Steve Jobs once said: ‘’Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’’. And after all, the word itself helps every second company stay competitive and on the cutting edge.
Keywords of Innovation
The first step on the golden stairs of executing innovation is understanding the meaning of it. The most important part is to view it as a PROCESS. Innovation doesn’t mean a plain brainstorming session to generate crazy ideas. Of course it is a crucial part, but without a process for idea retention and implementation they are useless. To act on ideas, a particular person should possess a combination of critical, creative, reflective and visionary thinking skills that are combined with curiosity and ability to collaborate.
Another key factor to avoid the buzz around innovation in your organization is embracing other, a bit less fashionable verbs. You can structure your process of innovation by implementing other verbs into actions, such as: maintain, rebuild, care, reform, tolerate, make, repurpose, help and repair. Obtaining some of these keywords in the framework of strategy can result in better outcome, because most companies aren’t thinking about these verbs, nor acting on them.
After all, in the era of the Internet where the pace of innovation is always accelerating, really understating the science of it makes a lot of difference in the ability to compete.
Where to start
While Innovation starts with an idea, a clever execution and careful planning is what makes it work in real life. It took 30 years to deliver iPod before the full value of the original idea was able to be realized. And even if it might take some time to change the way you operate, you’re not alone in this – bring along your awesome team and start putting the previously mentioned ‘keywords’ into action.
Aim for diversity – the more different departments contributing, the better. A successful system will need contributors from all over the organization, especially staff like support workers, sales staff and customer support employees.
Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods. According to research published in Harvard Business Review, with the right technology you can manage innovation just like you manage your sales channel.
Such technology is an Idea management tool that helps any organization generate more ideas anytime anywhere, while engaging all co-workers. Ideanote supports the innovation process with the following actions: ask, collect, grow, evaluate, act, feedback and measure – so that innovation can become strategic and functional.
A single idea is impossible to optimize for, just like a single sale is impossible to predict. But if you treat ideas systematically, you can manage the channel of those ideas. It will engage the employees to solve problems and generate a solid stream of innovations.
Innovation is more than a buzzword – it’s a necessity. So less talking and more doing. Show your innovativeness with actions and do what is right, not what is easy. The point of innovation is when motivated people seek a way to act on their ideas. All that will convert into real results and drive development within every aspect of the business.
If you liked the suggestions for avoiding innovation being a meaningless buzzword in your organization, read ‘How To Get Structure in a Brainstorm With Idea Management’.