Bring innovation and creativity into your business

Such is the distraction from news feeds, awash with coverage of innovations from Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (the so called four horsemen of technology) that one could be forgiven for thinking innovation is somehow their domain alone. Their Research & Development budgets are huge, their ideas are hailed as game-changers, and their people appear committed and motivated.

The reality though is somewhat different; effective innovation and creativity are vital to all businesses if they are to prosper. The challenge for most remains how to solve old problems and enter new markets by creatively applying existing products or services – rather than create new concepts.

So where do businesses start, how can you bring more innovation and creativity into your business?

Accepting that innovation is a vital of part of your business’s model to grow and improve, your business will need: Ideas that when implemented positively impact the business.

• An open mind, open to a change in the way you think and do things, recognising that current thinking and processes can be improved upon.

To generate ideas your business should tap the best source of creativity and ideas you have – your people.

Why? Because they experience first- hand, how things are done, they know better than anyone their area of manufacturing, operations, supply chain management, consultancy, marketing and sales, and crucially the questions customers are asking. Where better to start the journey?

How? How a business engages its people can be simple and effective, an employee suggestion / ideas scheme is easy to set-up and promote. The best-implemented suggestions can be financially rewarded – linked to their business impact or given company wide recognition, and ideal for reputation and career building.

Suggestion schemes do not have to be a completely open ‘all ideas welcome’ forum either, you can narrow the areas of employee ideas to more pressing business problems by posting questions around key departmental business challenges.

The next piece of the creativity-generating puzzle – once the will, the people and the suggestion scheme are in place – is to promote a loose guide to creativity. This could include tools and workshops and should encourage people to ask questions that challenge business processes and think how they can be improved. Key questions are:

• Why do we do things this way?
• What is not working so well?
• What is not necessary and how can it be improved?
• What ideas and suggestions can I contribute to the success of the business?
• Which new markets can our existing products and services be re-packaged for?
• If we do things differently, can we achieve more?

A business that provides its people with the opportunity, tools, guidance and encouragement to generate ideas, and uses their creativity can prosper and reap enormous benefits in the race to get ahead – and stay there.

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