Practicing innovation within your company

Your employees are either innovative and creative, or they are not. Right?

Wrong.

This is one of the biggest myths many business owners believe. Innovation is at the heart of every successful business, and while some employees are naturally innovative thinkers, the culture within your company can foster, encourage and even teach innovation.

You heard that correctly: at its core, innovation is a capability. It is a skill. It can be taught. Mature companies must continue to innovate in order to secure market share, maintain relevancy, and prevent other nimble, technology-focused competitors from swooping in and taking over.

But how do you innovate? How do you create an innovative culture? An innovative culture is one that encourages idea sharing; big, small, or crazy. Employees should feel comfortable sharing what’s on their mind and have the freedom to take risks.

Teaching innovation goes beyond just the innovative environment, however.

Leaders need to focus on three key elements in order to drive business innovation:

  • Idea Networking
    • Traditional networking occurs between industry peers, but idea networking encourages problem solving among different industry professionals. Sharing problems or challenges with others encourages problem solving on a different, more innovative level.
  • Associating
    • The practice of problem solving by associating two or more things in a unique way for a novel and useful new purpose can aid innovation.
  • Observation
    • Businesses can glean knowledge, problem-solving techniques and other nuances of business for the purpose of association. Observation allows a business owner to expand their universe of opportunity and perspective.

Innovative companies are willing to change, learn, try, and even fail on the path to success. Failure to innovate means the company risks falling victim to “the curse of the incumbent.” Technology is a major accelerator, and new, younger firms have the benefit of starting out with an innovative culture. The barriers to market entry are not the same, and the right innovation has the ability to steal market share from companies who have been successful for a long time. You must find new ways to problem solve within your business, and to do that you need new techniques, resources, and guidance to grow and cultivate innovation throughout your company.

SVA will host an Executive Briefing breakfast seminar The Power of Innovation: Get Your Business “Unstuck” in Madison at the UW-Madison Fluno Center on Wednesday, Aug. 23rd and on Thursday, Aug. 24 at the Embassy Suites in Brookfield.

For more information on these events, please visit www.sva.com/execseries.