What is it that makes a business more successful than another? You might go with the obvious answer and say, “Making more sales,” but there’s far more to it than that. In the long run, the thing that separates the winners from the losers in the business world is innovation. The more innovative a company is, the more likely they are to thrive over the years, while less innovative companies are more likely to get snuffed out.
So, if innovation is the big secret to success, what’s the recipe for innovation? And not just one-time innovation, but ongoing innovation that will keep your enterprise moving forward over the years? Here are 3 tips for becoming a top innovator in your industry.
Get Everyone Involved
When it comes to innovation, the more fresh ideas you can get, the better. Of course, involving every employee in your innovation efforts when you’re a large enterprise can seem like a daunting task. But with the right tools and proper innovation management software, these large-scale innovation efforts can make an incredible difference in your business.
American car company Ford has become one of the leading serial innovators in the world with their recent company-wide innovation efforts. The Ford Innovation Center is focused on turning all employees throughout the enterprise into active inventors. According to Ford Global Technologies chief executive Bill Coughlin, “We weren’t targeting just an increase in inventions, we were targeting an increase in Ford inventors…. Once a person becomes a true inventor, they’re going to invent again and again.”
Since instituting their new innovation program, Ford’s employees have submitted thousands of ideas, most of which come from first-time inventors. With an entire enterprise’s worth of employees actively inventing and innovating, it’s little wonder that Ford has become one of the most successful serial innovators of the decade.
Build on Current Innovations
When you hear the word “innovation,” do you think of something entirely new, such as a brand new product? While this might be the most obvious–and likely most profitable–form of innovation within an enterprise, there are many other forms that can have incredible long-term benefits for your company. And, they’re a lot easier to come by.
By building on current products and existing innovations, you are able to start with an existing foundation for your creations, rather than attempting to work from scratch. Examples of building on existing innovations might include:
- Adding new features to an existing product
- Upgrading your delivery system
- Creating a new workflow
- Implementing a new training system
- And so on
You can even ask yourself how an innovative idea can be applied in multiple areas, such as implementing a new workflow in multiple departments, or applying a new feature to multiple products. A business innovation doesn’t have to be created from scratch. By building on your current innovations, you can create better products, improve customer experience, increase efficiency, and turn a single innovative idea into dozens of innovations down the line.
Help Team Members Learn New Skills
If you’re focused on involving your entire team in your innovation efforts, then you should also be focused on providing those team members with the appropriate skills and training to create valuable, innovative ideas. Employees with greater training and skills are more likely to provide you with well-researched, thoroughly thought-out ideas, rather than ideas that are, ultimately of little to no use to your enterprise.
To become a serial innovator in your industry, you should provide your employees with in-depth training focused on innovation. According to Anthony Ferrier, CEO of Culturevate, “Many Fortune 500 companies are finally seeing the cultural and financial benefits from their investments in building sophisticated innovation programs. Those benefits include:
- Improvement to the bottom line
- More empowered employees
- Increase in employee engagement
- Improved employee skills
- More effective networks
- Connections between employees and leaders
True leaders in innovation don’t focus on creating the innovations themselves; they focus on creating innovators. Through proper training and a culture of innovation, you can turn your employees into inventors and innovators for your enterprise.