ChrissieH

January 6, 2006

10 Guidelines For Making A Company Innovative

Innovation needs support from the top. The most senior people in a company must make innovation a priority. Innovative companies need to be bold from the top – it is not for the faint hearted.

Innovation should become part of a company’s culture so that everyone in the business thinks of better ways of working or feels able to suggest innovations. When the culture of innovation runs through a company’s blood, everything it does and says will reflect this – its people, its offices, its communications and of course its products.

Set targets for innovations – for example that 30% of the company’s turnover should be from products or services that are less than 5 years old.

Innovative companies need eyes and ears that ferret out the un-met needs in the market. The sales force should play a critical role in feeding back ideas for innovation.

An innovative company is not frightened of the competition and must always keep an eye on what the competition is doing. Check out the competitors’ products and recognize whenever they have done something better than you.

Innovations from sectors not related to the construction industry could be a fertile source of new ideas (tell me again why cars are bristling with electronic controls and a modern house is virtually bereft of them!)

Look down the value chain for ideas. Don’t just look at your customers for ideas but look at your customers’ customers. It is people at the end of a value chain that often drive successful innovations.

Don’t expect all innovations to be successful. 9 out of 10 new ideas fail. Make sure therefore that you have a system for screening out successful ideas so that you don’t spend a fortune launching innovations only to find that they are like Concorde – ahead of their time or that people won’t pay sufficient for them.

Use market research to generate ideas for innovations and to test concepts or prototypes. The best market research for this purpose is qualitative research – digging deep into the attitudes of people using focus groups or depth interviewing rather than number crunching, head counting techniques.

And when you have an innovation, protect it with patents and get it fast into the market. First to launch usually wins.

This article was written by Paul Hague