Businesses go through good times and bad times. The economy goes up and down. Market sentiment rises and falls.
Throughout all this, the companies that survive are those that constantly innovate.
Stagnant companies get found out, particularly during economic slowdowns, when competition for consumers’ dollars becomes more intense.
During these times, innovative companies are able to hang onto their existing clients, steal market share of slow competitors and retain top staff.
One of the biggest misconceptions about innovation is that it only involves massive (and often costly) research and development projects.
Innovation can be as simple as putting a coffee machine in the office to help boost staff morale, or as complex as an R&D investment in software or infrastructure that results in increases to productivity.
The other important factor when attempting to increase innovation within an organisation is to ensure that everyone within the business is contributing and being involved in the process.
Companies that have successful innovation programs actively involve everyone in the process. For instance, all employees should have the opportunity to provide suggestions for improvement within the business. This not only helps to reduce change resistance, but also creates more avenues for new ideas to foster.
Google is one company that lives by this with a policy called 20% time. Employees at Google can dedicate 20% of their time to a project of their own interest. Google Maps was one such project that was created during 20% time.
Regardless of how big or small the innovations are, successful companies continue to do so on an ongoing basis.
The question to ask yourself is when was the last time your business innovated?