Our Innovation services for companies are usually called upon when a company director or senior management team knows that they need to be more innovative within the business, but perhaps don't best know where to start.
Our services range from helping directors to communicate better with all levels of the business to the creation of bespoke software to fill holes that have been created as the business has grown. Some of the most common things that we have worked on in helping companies that knew that they needed to be more innovative are:
- Using our HiveMind process to help departments to work more closely together
- Improve communication quality across hierarchy of the business
- Creation of bespoke software
- Simplifying proposal documentation
- Helping with pitch processes
- Creating end-to-end processes for new business enquiries
- Sales staff coaching and training
- Identifying new markets for existing products and services
- Marketing innovation
- Improving relationships with existing customers
To some, the list above may not seem so innovative, but every client we have taken on has been in need of innovation behaviours, stemming from items in this list, during most day-to-day activities and communication channels, rather than one big innovation strategy.
For innovation to become not just a buzzword or one-off occurrence, but to become deep-rooted within a company, we believe that the following needs to take place:
Marketplace Relevance >> Innovation Behaviours >> Innovation Strategies
Many companies believe that they are relevant in the marketplace when asked the question, but this is rarely the case. Just a few questions to ask any business are:
- Are they a producer of regular thought leadership documents or articles?
- Are directors regularly requested to appear in relevant publications?
- Do or have they recently conducted studies into industry-relevant data?
- Do they have representatives on industry-related bodies?
- Is their brand known by over 50% of industry personnel?
- Are they profitable?
- Are their products or services reliable and useful?
To build an innovation culture that will last and ultimately produce results, we believe that marketplace relevance is the first stage to get right.
Why? Because in becoming more relevant, with actions such as producing thought leadership documentation, research has to take place, and a closer relationship and improved knowledge is formed across various networks, such as customers, competitors, suppliers, industry bodies, the press and more - all leading to a much greater understanding of what is required, feared and yearned-for by each. This understanding across several networks can lead to the springboard of ideas for better solutions to existing problems. Better understanding of a marketplace also leads to greater confidence - and when ideas and confidence are mixed, innovation has a much higher chance of becoming the norm.
We believe that every company, and every person reading this text, has the chance to create something so innovative that it could change their industry for the better. But, the chances are almost lottery-like in their number without first deeply understanding idiosyncrasies of the marketplace and then incorporating innovative behaviours across the business.
It is our opinion that people within a business are by far the #1 reason that innovation behaviours fail to permeate. Leaders, of course, have to provide an initial (and ongoing) message that their company wishes to be more innovative from now on, but key personnel can be a huge blockage to this taking hold.
For innovation behaviours to take hold, a business needs:
- Open mindedness
- "that'll never work" is a phrase to be banished across all departments
- What went on before doesn't always have to be the case moving forward
- Question culture
- "Why" should become one of the most popular words within a business
- Many innovations come from innocuous 'accidents' - which usually come from a curious thought
- Challenging the norm, whether that be a product, a competitor's mantra, or a colleagues ideas should be more commonplace
- The way to innovation breakthroughs is often through continual experiments and empiricism
- The power of storytelling helps others to visualise their own versions of a problem and importantly, a solution
- Outcomes being more important than personalities
- Egos can hinder any innovation process and should be left at the door as employees arrive each day
- For every great idea, there are undoubtedly many bad ideas, and even when ideas are great, they have many hurdles to face around every corner, so persistence, even when ideas look dead in the water, is key for future success
- Encouragement from leaders, colleagues and even outside sources is vital, for the path of innovating is never smooth. Confidence of individuals is so important to the success of innovation - and nurturing of individuals and their work helps to keep confidence high
- Rewarding of failure
- Every failure of a product, or service, or even something at idea stage should be seen as a step along the way to the joyful experience of true innovation success
- Innovation rarely comes from a group of people who all know very similar things and have similar ideas about how things should and do work. The staff at Innovation Company have made their careers by purposely 'not knowing' what the expected norms of an industry or service are, which helps to stimulate many different thought patterns
- Innovation Company created HiveMind to combat a main enemy of innovation - elitism. In almost every business in the world people believe that they have the right to have their opinions heard above others. In the vast majority of cases, this is of course correct and important for a business to function. But, when it comes to innovation, then elitism often becomes the enemy. How can a meeting between several colleagues of different disciplines and rank be something where innovation thrives if the higher ranks (or dominant personalities) take over? Egalitarianism HAS to be in place when it comes to the creation of an innovation culture - in people's ideas, their questioning of things, the nurturing of their ideas and lack of criticism by anyone or any rank should it be deemed a failure. Egalitarianism is perhaps the thing that most businesses do not get right and struggle with the most when they start out on the road to becoming a more innovative company.
- Leadership must, despite what they have been taught for many years, to become more tolerant when things may appear to be stagnating. Of course, this does not mean lack of effort should be ignored, but if effort is applied, but 'rewards' may seem not forthcoming, tolerance can be the difference between future success and a collapse of the internal innovation ecosystem altogether.
- Leadership can show support in several ways. It can leave innovation teams alone completely, giving them support only when they request it, or it can play a closer role, but with an understanding that they are a part of the process and not critical of a team's or individual's work.
Let us let you into a little secret. Not many companies are truly ready to create innovation strategies. We would estimate that only 1 in 1000 companies could contemplate the creation of an innovation strategy, knowing that all of our suggested points above are in place. Even some of the world's most famous brands, which we have had the pleasure of working with, do not qualify for this honour, despite what they portray to the outside world.
Successful innovation includes creating an excellent, profit-making product or service and presenting this to an audience whose needs are currently unmet. But to do this without having what we suggest above results an in extremely hit and miss scenario where reliance on luck can be too great to warrant continued investment in innovation by leaders.
So, what exactly is our Innovation Service?
If you're not relevant in the marketplace, we help you achieve this. If you are or then become relevant in the marketplace, we then help your business to create innovation behaviours and an innovation culture. When this stage is met, then we help your business to create successful, long-lasting innovation strategies.
Contact us to find out more.
We'd love to discuss how we can unlock the innovation in your business and work together. Call us on 0161 7060483.
We are a creative Manchester-based management consultancy specialising in helping business growth with passion and love.
Suite 5A, Maclaren House, Lancastrian Office Centre, Talbot Rd