The father of today’s business management method, Peter Drucker, is credited with observing the two sole functions of businesses – innovation and marketing.
The companies that are excellent examples of embracing innovating include Apple, Amazon, and Tesla.
They earn a great deal of admiration, generate even greater sales and get marketing done in the form of media earned from both.
Businesses of all sizes know that innovation is a huge lever that propels their future success. Still, many fail to do it effectively. They stick to doing what has always been done. Some get on the latest trends when they are pushed to do it to avoid extinction instead of becoming pioneers in their sector. Not a good thing.
Jeff Bezos explains that a big part of the incredible success Amazon has had over time is its people’s commitment to innovation. His 2015 shareholder letter said that the source of the $100-billion-dollar company’s innovation skills lie where their failures are. He went on to say that he believed that Amazon is in the best place to fail because of all the practice it has.
Nothing, he says, is known in advance for inventing things. You must experiment.
Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention but don’t’ want to go through the necessary failures to get there.
Unfortunately, experimenting and failing is the only road to take.
To make a business a place where innovation is normal, it is essential to create an environment that is conducive to chance. It must be open to diversity and opinions. No matter what your history is you can build a company that offers products, services, and experiences that wow your customers constantly. Here is how to do that.
1. Create an experimentation culture.
You will see it in articles, blogs, and books: failure comes before success.
If you can start to accept failure as part of the learning process, it will help you achieve your goals. You will get more comfortable as you move forward with this concept.
You must make failure work for you. Do this by experimenting in small enough ways that you will not be left walking around in a barrel if things do not go well. To create a culture that is ready for innovation, it also has to have a system of continuous feedback. This loop of continuous communication gives you the clues needed to produce remarkable things.
2. Make generating ideas a habit.
Innovation starts with ideas. Quantity will always beat out quality when it comes to improving the odds of coming up with winning ideas for your business. Not every idea will be a keeper, but if you have a huge supply of thoughts to choose from it can be much easier to boil down what your customers really want from you.
As a writer, I have a habit of generating 25 headlines to use potentially for one article. When I push myself to come up with more creative options I generate better ideas. Make it a habit to generate ideas daily at your business. Have your team members provide ideas every day. Create a system that works to catalog what they offer.
3. Diversify experiences.
Innovation thrives on diversity, not singularity. Steve Jobs understood this. This is why he encouraged his team to take the road less traveled. In 1982, Jobs was quoted as saying that if you are to make innovative connections that you cannot have the same “bag” of experience that others do. He was just 26 when he observed this out loud as he accepted a Golden Plate Award in Washington DC.
You must step outside of the comfort zone. Seek out many new experiences for yourself personally and professionally. Intentionally seek talent. You have to build a team of rock stars that bring diversity, ideas, experiences and new ways of thinking to your company.
With their help, observations and skills, you will build a bigger frame of reference. You will no longer be satisfied with anything status quo. You will want something truly innovative every time.
4. Encourage dissent.
Encourage your team to knock your ideas around. This is the only way to improve on them. A capable team of people with values that you value will provide better criticism and this will ultimately produce a better product than you could have done by yourself.
Data from UC Berkeley back up this principle by demonstrating that conflict improves the process of ideation.
How can a team that agrees to abide by everything you say help your company innovate?
Set up regular team meetings to get input on turning a good idea great. Make your environment one where team members assure each other that their opinions are of value. They will become more comfortable about vocalizing their personal expertise so that the quality of your products and services improve no matter what your business sells.
5. Become obsessed with your customers.
You exist to serve your customers. The more you can provide them with value, the more they reward you with loyalty. Focus your efforts on getting to know them right away. You will get a huge amount of insight into how to solve their problems like no one can.
Whenever you can, talk to your customers. Walk in their shoes, as it were, to develop greater empathy for them.
Look for pain points so that you can start brainstorming ideas with your team to turn those pains into customer satisfaction.