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The degree in which a company prioritizes sustainable innovation can often become the difference between a successful business and a struggling business. True innovation does more than just meet the immediate exigency of consumers and clients; it anticipates those demands and needs, providing products and/or services that radically changes the landscape of the marketplace. However, every innovation effort requires a business to observe and measure every aspect of the new product development (NPD) process to ensure profitable growth. In order to promote innovation in your organization, consider the following guidelines:
- To Improve or To Revolutionize
There are different types of innovation and it’s important to identify the one that best suits your business’s needs, whether it’s incremental changes to the product line or a pioneering breakthrough that opens a new path for value delivery. If your organization has recently released a product, what are some improvements that can be implemented? If your company is considering taking on new services to meet the unique demands of its consumer base, what are some of the determining metrics in place? There are also certain factors that must be considered with both: implementing incremental changes on a select product/service without diversifying your company’s portfolio can potentially lead to stagnancy; and managing breakthroughs can prove immensely difficult, like navigating through unknown territory without a map. The benefits are different as well: improving a product/service can ensure its relevancy in the market place and a breakthrough holds the potential for significant growth and brand visibility.
- They Talk, You Listen; You Ask, They Answer
While most will certainly agree that customer feedback is essential to their company practice, the prevalence of social media has redefined the expectations of both parties. Technical lines that coincide with operating business hours have now given way to 24-hour online messaging systems. Official social media platforms have become public forums for gauging consumer interest as well as a promotional outlet. Whether it’s a tweet about an upcoming firmware patch or an announcement of a new product via Facebook, innovation necessitates open dialogue; consumers now demand convenient and immediate access to pose their queries, and companies are beholden to oblige at the risk of losing customer loyalty.
- Innovation Trailblazers
Innovation requires vision, and is often the task of a business’s visionary. There are different terms for this specific role, the individual that fosters talent, poses the hard questions, and recognizes and appreciates the unique skill sets and perspectives of every member of the team. Most importantly, in order for the visionary to realize innovation, the person-in-charge must have a clear management process in place that facilitates creativity and maintains an encompassing view of its applications.
- Metrics into Profits
Most companies would categorize return-on-investments (ROI) as a top priority, and nothing is more important than metrics to ensure ROI. With the versatility and accuracy of performance metrics, a business can now determine the viability of every nuanced choice in its progress from ideation to realization. Regular analysis also deters the chances of unforeseeable vagaries such as an overlooked issue that was never clarified, a predetermination of a successful functionality contradicted by negative reception, or failing to file patents in a timely fashion.
- Reaping the Rewards
Nothing says like a job well done than proud employees. It’s important to acknowledge the team’s time and effort spent. This applies to everyone, from stockholders to the desk clerk. Not only does this incentivize the business to continually strive for innovation, it establishes an important foundation of trust that enriches a given business’s culture and sense of community.
For more in-depth guidelines on how to promote innovation in your business, refer to Robert’s Rules of Innovation. Be sure to keep an eye out for the forthcoming Robert’s Rules of Innovation II, “The Art of Implementation.”