Organisations often say that they would like to be more innovative, but only a small amount actually act on these intentions. Innovation does not necessarily mean inventing ‘the next big thing’, it can be anything from improving a current product or service, to finding a more effective way of doing things. If you would like to be more innovative, these six steps will put you on the right track towards innovation.
1. Focus on communication
Workplaces and individuals continue to underestimate the importance of effective communication. Without the ability to effectively articulate your ideas, how are you meant to be innovative? Communication is a fundamental part of innovation, and as such it should not be overlooked. If you would like to better your communication skills; read widely, network with as many people as you can, and put yourself outside your comfort zone. These simple activities can also help in the innovation process itself – you may read something that sparks an idea, or learn something new from a new contact which sends you in a different direction.
2. Use teamwork
Teamwork is integral to innovation – some of the best brainstorming is done when in a group environment. Working in a team can allow ideas to be suggested, analysed, built upon or rejected. When engaged in effectively, teamwork provides an environment that allows the free flow of ideas no matter how crazy they may be. Without teamwork, ideas reflect the opinion of only one person and their preferences which may not result in the best option.
3. Embrace risk
Many organisations are very risk averse which results in little innovation. In today’s fast paced business environment, risk should be embraced rather than avoided. Of course calculated risks must be taken in comparison to those which haven’t been researched, however without risk there will be no innovation. You must expect that some ideas will fail, but you must overcome this fear and plan for risk rather than avoid it.
4. Take baby steps
In order to innovate, you do not need to have an absolutely ground breaking idea. It is sometimes better to step back and take smaller steps towards innovation and improvement. This allows for smaller milestones to be achieved, and is also a better option for more risk averse organisations.
5. Keep up to date
To ensure that you are suggesting relevant ideas, you must keep up to date with current technologies and industry trends. You should aim to be on the forefront of new developments, and apply this knowledge into your own business. Reading about and observing the practices of industry leading organisations can assist this process, as well as attending conferences and networking events.
Do you have any suggestions that can be added to this list? How do you approach the topic of innovation? I would love to hear your suggestions so feel free to add them in the comments box below.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.
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