May 31, 2007 0 comments
"The lack of new ideas is worrying. Unless companies can come up with new ideas they won't have any innovations to exploit in the future. Both companies and the Government need to do more to create the conditions in which creativity can flourish. It is timely that a new round of the Government's Foresight program has just got underway."
The other key constraints on innovation are problems finding finance and the amount of competition. The good news is that the cost of finance is less of a problem. For manufacturers international competition is becoming increasingly important, and although it is less of a problem for non-manufacturers they too are facing mounting competition from North America and the Asia Pacific.
Tips for successful business innovation in processes and products
- Create goal vision. Have business goals in your company and communicate them. Know how you want to position your company.
- Market savvy. Foresight is important - you need to know your marketplace and have an intimate understanding of your customer's needs today and tomorrow.
- Encourage creativity. Companies rely on employees for their future growth. Give employees time and support to exercise their own initiative - give some direction but encourage creative thinking. At technical employees have the blessing of the company to devote 15% of their time on projects of their own choosing.
- Empower employees. Provide support for developing employee's ideas, give a suitable degree of project ownership and then reward their successes.
- Encourage risk taking and understand failures. Innovation brings risks - as picking winners is never easy! The key is to spot the losers early because this reduces the financial and organizational risk. Turn a failure on its head to see if it might work in another setting.
- Support Implementation. Provide the resources (time, money, materials) to bring suitable ideas to fruition.
- Know how to fund a new idea. Research where to find money to fund new ideas and then secure it when needed. Let researchers apply for special grants, which provide the finance and resource for projects that cannot be supported through normal budgets.
- Protect your ideas. Evidence suggests that firms with an understanding of intellectual property rights have a better chance of maintaining a competitive edge and can maximize the returns of their innovation.
- Sometimes sharing is better. Recognize that not all ideas are within your scope alone. Finding the right partner externally can often bring about the best result.
- Be ready for change. When the right idea comes along the rewards can be substantial but you need to recognize that you may need to change the nature and shape of your business. Several times in its history whole new areas have opened up through innovation.