For centuries product innovation has been important to business growth and expansion, although many businesses also thrived through low-cost or customer service based differentiation, often with little real innovation. With the introduction of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), this is no longer the case.
According to Talksure’s Head of Product, Sean Stringer, “This new chapter in human development has fundamentally changed the way we live, work and relate to one another. Today, erring on the side of caution when it comes to innovation (and product innovation in particular) will not only see you left behind, but closing your doors.”
He adds that 88% of the Fortune 500 firms that existed in 1955 are no longer around. So, what do the remaining 12% have in common? The answer is a culture of innovation. “Innovation doesn’t just happen though, you have to be purposeful and onboard the entire business,” Stringer explains.
Stringer’s four ways to foster a culture of innovation:
Lead from the front: Famous author, John C. Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. When it comes to innovation this is especially true. You need to ensure that both you and your business leaders buy into the concept of innovation, because without that your people may not rise to the challenge. Furthermore, your responsibility as a leader is not necessarily to be the innovator, but rather to inspire and mobilise teams to want to innovate.
Access to the right tools and environment: If you want to inspire your people, you then need to create an environment that is conducive to innovation. Consider hosting innovation workshops, but don’t forget to employ processes that map out how to deliver and implement new thinking – after all, thought without action is not innovation, it’s just another idea.
Collaboration: Leverage different parts of the business to collaborate, explore and create. Junior team members can bring a lot of insight in terms of defining your current reality and often have loads of ideas to share – they just lack the platform (and maybe the courage) to share it. Interestingly, at Talksure, some of our most innovative ideas have come from parts of the business we least expected. Different perspectives are gold.
Encourage feedback: Test, test, test and test again! Direct feedback from customers is incredibly valuable in the process of innovation. If you want to know if your idea is a good one, test it on a customer and then ask for feedback. It’s in these sessions with our customers that we picked up rare gems that helped us move forward with exciting new products!
“Getting people to think differently and do things differently as opposed to sticking to tried, tested and trusted ways of the past can be tough. Sadly, there is no silver bullet to fix that. Building any type of culture takes time and conscious effort. At the same time however, Talksure has found that doing the above-mentioned things consistently over time is what has played a key role in us delivering a range of innovative solutions to real needs, including our 24/7, Help Me! and Elixi product solutions”, Stringer concludes.