Innovation is not like a bolt of lightning, generally it comes from a mass of experiments.
Edison didn’t immediately invent the light bulb!
Just because it takes time you shouldn’t be put off, strategic innovation and organisational innovation lay at the foundation of all large companies. But the innovation doesn’t have to be huge, often it is the small changes that have the most impact. For example, Amazon putting a one-click button and system on its page to make purchasing easy.
Toyota is a great example of using small innovations and ideas. In one year its employees suggested over 750,000 ideas for improvement and the company implemented over 80% of them. (source: The Truth about Innovation Max McKeown).
Great companies harness the power of all their employees – Google lets every employee spend 10% of their time on any ideas they want to develop.
When we provide innovation consultancy to a business we do it within the context of the overall purpose, values and strategy. Innovation will only work if it is supported by the leadership of the company and there is a culture within the company which encourages risk taking rather than a blame culture where people are scared.
There are lots of tools we use to help spark ideas in our creative think tank sessions but we always start with understanding what are the key strategic issues which most impact the business because this where innovation will have most impact. We share the view of open innovation that ideas can come from both inside and outside the business. For example, in our experience one of the most overlooked sources of ideas are the existing customers of businesses and how they use and interact with the company. What they do will often give insights which lead to valuable, practical and immediate innovations.