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Making Innovation central to your small business – part 3

peopleIn order to make innovation central to your small business those who are the decision markers in the organization must provide a culture that is safe for celebrating and hosting new ideas, methods, and processes. Innovation cannot thrive when limits are placed on creativity. People need to be empowered to brainstorm, build, and develop in a safe and supportive environment. Creativity and genius are never so apparent as when a person is just passionately and quietly doing what he or she enjoys doing the most.






We’ve started to review some practices and principles that encourage and promote a culture of innovation? So let’s continue that discussion to see what else we can find out about the meaning of innovation.


Challenge convention


If innovation represents the introduction of a new idea, method, or device, then the contrast to that is the preservation of old and outdated processes, conventions, and ideas. Conventional thinking is convenient, easy, and comfortable. And the statements supporting conventional thinking are often not hard to detect. “That’s the policy” or “We’ve always done things that way.” Conventional thinking will kill innovation faster than anything else. Remember Einstein’s well-known definition of insanity – doing  the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So the best way to avoid “insanity” in your organization is by challenging the status quo. Look beyond predictable responses and pithy platitudes about business process and start promoting a culture that makes it safe to ask new questions and question old traditions.


Keep the end result in mind


Innovation is never a static and fixed process. Like life itself, innovation tends to be open and fluid . . . and unpredictable. You may think it’s best to start out with a fixed goal, product, or outcome in mind but the realities of the market will often require a pivot or shift in strategy. There’s a powerful statement on this point that’s worth sharing at length:


The innovation process in many small companies presupposes a fixed end result.  Thinkers move toward that anticipated result by brainstorming a goal, concocting creative ways to achieve the goal, acquiring the required resources, executing numerous plans, building prototypes and selecting the premier one. But what happens when your process is done and the market has changed? Market dynamics move quickly; sometimes during the time it takes to complete the innovation process, the proposed “innovation” is eclipsed by another creation and is no longer novel or cutting edge.


Don’t languish in the planning stage


Ever hear the expression, “The devil is in the details”? It holds true for innovation no less. A great idea or vision has to travel a circuitous path from inception to planning and development and eventual adoption. Say, for example, that your development team comes up with a plan for a new mobile app that will increase KPI’s across your organization by an estimated 20% over the next year. Whenever new ideas percolate and begin to crystallize there will be lots of great synergy and discussion, at least initially. But then the naysayers and the realities of existing structures start to kick in. There will be those who, due to various fears of failure or of the unknown, automatically default to some previous bad experience instead of keeping the original vision alive. Roadblocks soon emerge as old instincts kick in and before long the original innovation vision starts to collapse into a cacophony of what if’s, can’t do’s, and how so’s?


The stay true to the vision, ensure that your team appoints a lead who “gets innovation” and even in the most difficult times can keep the players on track and steer them beyond the minutiae towards the end goal.


We’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. Join us back here soon!


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