We are naturally capable of innovating all the time, but our psychological filters stop us before we even get out our drawing books.
How hard is it to innovate? Is it raw talent, a trained skill or just luck? As a growth company, how can you repeatedly implement great new products, processes or services? Continuous innovation is not easy and if you keep using the same method you will experience diminishing results.
Innovation comes naturally to me, as my key strengths of Improvement and problem solving, combined with creativity and a love of change bring me a brain that never stops. (Exhausting, trust me.)
Here are my top 8 suggestions to get your started into the habit of innovation:
1. Ask customers. If you simply ask your customers how you could improve your product or service, they will give you plenty of ideas for innovations. Typically, they will ask for new features or that you make your product cheaper, faster, easier to use, available in different styles and colours etc. Listen to these requests carefully and choose the ones that will really pay back.
2. Observe customers: Never ask what they WANT. Ask what THE PROBLEM is. Then you can innovate.
3. Copy Paste: look at someone else’s idea. One way to innovate is to pinch an idea that works elsewhere and apply it in your business.
4. Minimize or maximize. Take something that is standard and minimise or maximise it. Take out the middle man. (IKEA lets you build your own furniture, or sells the service to pay extra for someone to do it for you)
5. Eliminate. What could you take out of your product or service to make it better? Dell eliminated the computer store, Amazon eliminated the bookstore, the Sony Walkman eliminated speakers and record functions.
6. Collaborate. Work with another company who sees things differently. We recently spoke to a lighting company who had great ideas for improving visibility in surgery.
7. Combine. Combine your product with something else to make something new. It works at all levels. Think of a suitcase with wheels, or a mobile phone with a camera or a flight with a massage.
8. Ask your team. Lead your team is such a way that innovation and improvement is always on everybody’s mind, and that nobody is afraid to speak their opinions.