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3 Ways to Promote Innovation

There is no doubt that huge innovation takes place in science labs and universities and R&D departments of big corporates. Clever people creating stuff that improves our lives…

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

But, everyone can innovate.  It is not the realm of those with white coats who have the licence on innovation.  Here are 3 ways to help you build innovation into your startup, non-profit or growing business…


1.  Aspiration

Nothing too scientific about this one :).  Any leader must build in a culture, where everyone in the team wants to get involved in something special, create something special and of course be merited as part of the team that created it.  I went to a tech conference in Manchester last week.  BusinessRocks – it was refreshing and such fun.  Almost made me want to be a full-time techie :)  One of the speakers was talking about purpose.  He recalled the time when JFK was visiting NASA, having called the USA to a big hairy audacious goal – the first country to put a man on the moon.  The president was touring the facility and met a janitor.  He asked the janitor what he did and the man replied “I’m helping to put a man on the moon”.

This story encapsulates how everyone in your team or company must be involved and be part of the story.  It’s not just a role that they may perform, it’s a feeling inside….  aspiration.


2.  The Willingness to Discover

So many entrepreneurs I meet have not properly discovered who their customer is.  They think they have a rough idea.  But, they have not taken the time to gain that valuable insight into the painpoint they believe exists and who agrees with them and wants it fixed in their lives…

Customer insight coupled with a keen eye for how to solve the problem with minimum friction is needed.  But, we cannot forget the use and matching of clever technology to catalyse the process.  This is where the innovation takes legs and walks.  This whole process will not be a fait accompli right away.  It may take many iterations and ‘failures’, but the process is all about discovery. Sometimes we discover things we did not expect… Viagra being a classic tale.  It’s side effect was not what was expected, but made the company billions.


3.  Speediness and Acceleration

R&D teams or innovation teams can spend time working in the project as opposed to working on the project.  This is where they miss stuff.  In the attempt to get a finished product out there fast, they lose out on how it actually could be…  That is why the MVP methodology still holds true in innovation.  Build a bit, throw up a quick and dirty prototype, throw up a half coded site.  From here, acting really fast, the innovation comes…  Not from the finished product.  Now, this is a tough gig as bosses, shareholders and directors want stuff out there looking good and working – to bring in dollars.  But, by being bold enough in holding back this reality, more innovation can be built into the proposition.  Ergo a more intuitive, customer focussed, longer lasting commercial product to market.

Speed means we can learn more…. but it takes an attitude of bravado to hold down short term expediency, thus pushing the essence and practicality of the innovation further and building in more value.