Fast growing companies are likely to be more innovative than those that exhibit a more pedestrian approach to life. Gazelles display an edge; this in turn makes them memorable within the market place therefore delivering enhanced customer connectivity. Innovation is more than research and development in its purest form; it’s about looking at everything you do through a different pair of glasses. Innovation spans a wide spectrum – office décor, staff development, strategic partnerships, the way you communicate and work with customers, financing your business, packaging of your products and services, IP and brands – this list goes on.
So many entrepreneurs ask me – how can we become more innovative? There is no switch or magic wand to turn it on. It’s about leadership and culture. Innovation comes from people and if you are the leader/founder it starts with you. Are you set in your ways? Do you avoid routine? Do you encourage people to take risk? Are staff encouraged to make suggestions? And do you listen to new thinking?
One of the best ways of driving innovation is through controlled experiments. Iterate, try out new ideas, test them and seek feedback from staff, customers and stakeholders. A little bit of courage goes a long way. The fear of failure or getting it wrong is such a powerful barrier to creativity and innovation. The word controlled is extremely important when you are exploring new possibilities. Don’t risk anything you can’t afford to lose. Small steps, nudging forward within a framework of good financial practice is key to unlocking new ideas with strong commercial potential. I have seen some real horror stories where entrepreneurs place everything they have at risk, personal assets, business brand and reputation – insanity not innovation.
Test your new ideas rather than talk about them – but tread carefully! A behavior of think, do and review goes a long way to creating a culture and habit of innovation. Get more controlled experiments going, it makes life, business and work far more exciting for all concerned.