Don't Leave Innovation To Chance
Entrepreneurs know the value of a good idea better than anyone. That spark, creative push or lightbulb moment are what many entrepreneurs base their business on. Ideas and innovations are the lifeblood of a start-up – without one you are up against things from the word go.
This is why it surprises me when I meet business leaders who still leave the discovery of ideas to chance, relying on their innate creativity and business instinct to see them through. The fact is, while idea generation is creative, idea capture and development is a process and must be treated accordingly.
The value of good ideas
Big ideas come in different shapes and sizes. If your business is involved in developing new products and services then you will probably need to generate, capture, review and implement big ideas rather than small ones. Most organisations, however, have the same ultimate goal: they want to innovate more and faster. They want to uncover the best big ideas and implement them rapidly. Generating and implementing great ideas ensures sustainable growth and competitive advantage in an increasingly fierce innovation race.
Part of the problem for many organisations that approach us, is that they hope and expect the big ideas to emerge fully-formed and ready to go. The truth is very different and big ideas mostly emerge from smaller ideas that have been discussed and developed into something more substantial.
Ideas need to be built around, they need to be developed and nurtured to grow into great, sustainable ideas and spark more. An idea can certainly result in a novel concept, product or service but the truth is a sudden outburst of creativity rarely happens. Ideas need to be discussed and analysed with other contributors and thought leaders in order to blossom.
Also, smaller and everyday ideas are just as valuable as the big ones. They are beneficial for incremental changes, short-term value and continuous process improvement. These small ideas can also result in the innovative product or service you have been waiting to uncover. Your employees must be aware of the value of each of their ideas and they must realise that no idea opportunity should be missed.
Getting started on the road to innovation
A critical early stage in the idea capture process is to instil a culture of innovation within and beyond your organisation. This means leveraging the power of your crowd, engaging your employees in this culture and encouraging them to contribute ideas. You must also ensure their contribution is ongoing by encouraging them to ideate continuously. This flow of ideas is integral to the development of successful ideas, big or small.
Next, there must be an effective way of capturing those ideas as ideas can easily be forgotten or told to the wrong person. Having somewhere that people can submit their ideas, secure in the knowledge that those ideas will be read, evaluated and feedback provided is a key component for any organisation serious about innovation. Staff need to know how and where to share their ideas and know that ideas will get listened to by the right people to provide feedback and to take that idea further.
Finally, remember to be audacious and bold in the ideas you generate. It is important to continuously expand and develop ideas to improve them. Build around your ideas, have them reviewed and have decision makers, colleagues and a broader community interact with them. Do this and you will be well on the way to successful innovation. The best ideas in your organisation will be developed and discussed to fruition, instead of remaining half-remembered in someone's inbox.
Smart entrepreneurs know the value of continuing to innovate and the importance of good ideas in moving their business forward. This requires more than a quick brainstorm now and again but the tools for capturing ideas are there for those that don't want to leave idea generation to chance.