(Series 2/8) How Innovative Is Your Business?

wazoku Blog, EveryDay Innovation Blog Series

Psychologists charge a huge fee to tell you that the first step towards change is awareness.  This is as true for businesses as it is for individuals that want to succeed.

If you want to stand out from your competition, are you prepared to take a good look at your business and assess how innovative your business culture is?

Everyday Innovation is about nurturing an internal culture where all employees are encouraged to regularly initiate new problem-solving ideas that add value and drive growth; this is a winning strategy.

An essential starting point is to measure where you are, from an organisational perspective against the five pillars of Everyday Innovation: Strategy, Leadership, Management, Culture, Process and Tools.

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The five pillars are then assessed against the 4 x 4 Innovation Pulse scale (Novice Innovator, Apprentice Innovator, Professional Innovator and Everyday Innovator) to shed a light on where your organisation’s existing innovation levels lie. You can also use Innovation Pulse from a benchmarking perspective against other organisations (nationally and globally).  As you continue to regularly evaluate your organisation’s innovation capabilities, the tool can also be used for measuring against different levels in the business, the business unit and geography etc.

Here’s a quick look at the five pillars and some of the areas that Innovation Pulse highlights:

 (1) Strategy: 

Do you have a clear vision and strategy for innovation? Everyone wants to be the next Apple or Dyson but your strategy has to be tailored to your organisation’s capabilities. Once you have a realistic view of where your company currently is, you will then have a clear idea of what you need to do to reach your innovation objectives.

To adopt an innovative culture without aligning this directive with your overall corporate strategy is one that will surely lead to failure.  Everyday innovation is one where innovation is the fundamental part of how organisations operate on a daily basis. Innovation, therefore, has to be at the heart of your business strategy if you want to become a best in class organisation.

(2) Leadership:

For an innovative organisation to become truly effective there has to be strong leaders behind it.  Leaders that are willing to step out of their comfort zone, are comfortable with edenise-image-2 (1)mpowerment and developing a culture of openness.  Because let’s face it, once your employees become more engaged and forthcoming with new ideas and suggestions, you need to be willing to open yourself up for scrutiny too.

Many businesses say they want to champion an innovative approach but the decision makers catastrophically freak out when a minor mistake happens. Don’t make this error. A great example of this is at Waitrose where they encourage their team to fail fast but to be prepared to act quickly to find a solution. A true leader accepts and learns from their mistakes and encourages those around to do the same.

(3) Management:

You wouldn’t come into work and not do your job properly, so why would you not think about innovation and doing the best you can for the company you work for.”  David Cowland – Director, Fidelity

Along with being key to the organisational success and growth, managers are a vital part of the innovation process. But do your managers feel supported in this area? Has innovation been clearly defined as being part of their role? Or does the fear of being reprimanded for failure (when trying something new) hold them back from taking risks?

To ensure the success of an Everyday Innovation culture in your organisation, your managers need to be equipped with the resources needed to meet the innovation objectives.

(4) Culture:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast – You can have the most beautiful strategy, but if your culture doesn’t know how to execute that strategy, then it’s worthless.” Charlene Li Forrester Researcher

To successfully build (and maintain) the capacity to innovate, organisations need to evaluate whether their current culture is one that will either inhibit or enable innovation.

If your culture is not quite where it needs to be to effectively reach your innovation objectives, (even if all of the remaining four pillars are in place) then there’s a lot of work to be done. 63% of business leaders see changing company culture as a top challenge (Altimeter Study 2014) but with the right information garnered from the assessment and the right resources in place this it is possible to do.

(5) Process & Tools:

Do you have specific tools and methodologies that enable innovation?

Process is the necessary evil but to see growth in the area of innovation means having a clearly defined process.  A process that allows for idea management as well as one that allows for pushing boundaries whilst managing risk.

Technology is also an important component of all the other 5 pillars and a great facilitator for bringing about the change that business leaders seek in the area of Everyday Innovation.

What is Innovation Pulse?

Our soon to be launched Innovative Maturity Scale. (developed by Future Shapers powered by us at Wazoku) is a tool that will enable you to:

  1. Understand your starting point.
  2. Identify what your business and (let’s not forget) employees need to change to be successful.

It consists of a set of targeted questions around the five pillars.  You, along with members of your organisation complete the questionnaire, which will then calculate where you are across Innovation Pulse. On completion of an assessment, the information will enable you to develop a clear and well-defined innovation strategy to move your organisation forward towards making a culture of innovation a reality.

Want to know where your organisation is on Innovation Pulse? Sign up for a demo or download the data sheet!