Lots of businesses have embraced technical innovation at a strategic level, aiming to leverage its escalating influence and deliver improved productivity – as well as bottom-line results.
However, we should not forget that innovation isn’t just about the large enterprise developments, it’s also about the smaller below-the-line advances created by employees who have bought into that strategy and who are a key part of its delivery.
Vision and inspiration are needed to create new advancements, but on their own, that’s not enough. It’s equally important to put in place a basic structure and a process by which you can support the innovation and the ideas being created by your team.
As a software company, we often see the impact on a business where innovation and ideas are not managed. These tend to be solutions with a high level of dependency on the creator, who often has limited levels of technical expertise. Initially, the solution has made a positive contribution to the business but subsequently caused issues and posed a risk as a result of a change in the status quo.
Moving to a more structured environment isn’t complicated; I have picked two simple steps, which should be easy to implement. To support innovation in your business, I would recommend the following;
- Set up a simple process to capture new concepts and ideas. Develop a simple form that can be accessed by people within your organisation.
- Manage & regularly audit the below-the-line tools & innovations being used on a day-to-day basis.
Both are really important. The first simply to encourage and embrace innovation within your business and to provide a structure and reward mechanism for those that come up with new ideas.
The second is needed to control the innovation that’s helping to deliver improvements to the way the business operates or how it makes decisions day in, day out. It’s often these ideas and innovations that propel the business forward and deliver significant productivity gains. Equally, they often pose the greatest risk when the status quo changes.
Start off by conducting an audit of the key tools, spreadsheets, databases that all areas of the business rely on and ask the key questions to help you prioritise the gaps in knowledge so that you can minimise and limit the risks moving forward.
- What influence does it have on business decisions?
- Has the output been checked & validated?
- What value does it add?
- Does it pose any risks?
- Who’s responsible for maintaining the solution/spreadsheet/database?
An added benefit of Auditingis that it can often help deliver improvements too, as the analysis of the tools can identify further productivity opportunities.