Use new methods to create something new… Innovation
Cultures of innovation are naturally dynamic. Employees think of new ideas and try them on the fly. Processes and procedures are fluid. There often is not one right answer to a problem, but rather experimentation drives many projects, efforts, assignments and ultimately opportunities for improvement. When all that is documented and discussed by the team, real innovation starts happening.
Fundamentally, innovation means introducing something new into your business. This could be:
- improving or replacing business processes to increase efficiency and productivity, or to enable the business to extend the range or quality of existing products and/or services
- developing entirely new and improved products and services often to meet rapidly changing customer or consumer demands or needs.
Innovation can mean a single major breakthrough – e.g. a totally new product or service. However, it can also be a series of small, incremental changes. In any case, innovation is not tweaking. Innovation is doing something totally different.
In addition, innovation does not mean acquiring new technology. We always think that new software, new equipment, new inventory scanners, new walkie talkie technology or a Smart TV will make us innovative. That’s just not true. What makes you innovative is HOW you use that technology, or actually not just how you use all your resources, but how you approach everything you do.
Can you use technology in an innovative way? Absolutely, but the innovation occurs after the acquisition, not by the acquisition.
Think through what needs to be fixed, and what could be improved, to prime yourself to recognize opportunities as they are revealed. Some good examples are below:
- Want to offer more producer meetings statewide, but don’t have the resources to pay for all the travel that would entail? Use Skype for training, a possible solution to the opportunity.
- Use text messages to communicate when it seems only a few of your contacts answer phone calls or emails.
- Design a system that helps pool shared data to better understand how each customer is served across the different types of providers they use, maybe there is a way for both of you to grow business by seeing crossover opportunities or holes neither of you is filling.
Technology is a powerful driver of both the evolution and proliferation of innovation, but don’t think you can’t innovate until you can afford a 3D printer. You can innovate every minute or every day by how you think, change and treat people.