The problem many businesses have in terms of innovation is knowing where to start. The best way is often starting fresh and that requires a complete analysis of the company’s strategic advantage, if one exists at all. This is not to say it should take a long time. In a number of previous blogs, we outlined what is meant by strategic advantage versus just competitive advantage.
Since the process of innovation is often problematic for many businesses, we have outlined 8+ ideas to drive innovation, in the hope that this will kick-start your innovation process.
While leading a business in 1998, we assembled all our staff, from every group and interest in our business. Our purpose was to determine the company’s core strengths (not necessarily uniqueness) and what market opportunities existed based on customer and the team’s inputs. From this, we developed a value proposition and product concept that would position us with a new product paradigm. The result of this process was the ‘self-service kiosk’, with which we built our company into the #1 company globally, designing, manufacturing and delivering kiosks to the airlines and airports of the world. We were eventually acquired for this product and the inherent design and service skillsets that came with it.
Not all companies are able to follow a path similar to that outlined above. Sometimes, a focus area is needed for a starting point. What we have drawn up below is a list of possible areas that could help drive your future innovation projects.
We like to focus on these key areas for Innovation: Customers! Products! Markets!
• Customer Experience Innovation (how can customers better interact with us?)
• Revenue Innovation (how can we generate new revenue streams?)
• Marketing & Sales Innovation (is there a better way to go to market e.g. mobile marketing?)
• Cost Innovation (how do we take cost out of the business?)
• Product Innovation (how do we capture/use our unique capabilities for new products?)
• Customer Co-Op Innovation (how can customers help us with new/upgrade products?)
• Business Model Innovation (how do we change the way we interact with our market?)
• Process Innovation (what is needed to create seamless integration in our business?)
And we can also look at the Company for areas of Innovation.
• Management Innovation (how do we ensure resources are available in the right places?)
• Organisational Innovation (will collaborative work teams make us more agile?)
• Business/Operations Technology Innovation (where do we invest for productivity gain?)
Creating strategic advantage operates most successfully on a company-wide or on a divisional level. It provides a clear understanding of the strategic steps and provides the tools required to force development for innovation within the company.
As we have described, innovation is a key driver for companies. However, most companies continue to struggle with understanding what it is, what’s stopping them from being more innovative and how to move forward with their efforts to innovate. Hopefully, we have provided some trigger points to start the creative juices flowing on the path to innovation.