What is innovation?

Everyone can innovate. Innovation generally refers to renewing, changing or creating  more effective processes, products or ways of doing things. Advertisement: Story continues below For businesses, this could mean implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products or improving your existing services. Innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of your business, and help you adapt and grow in the marketplace. Being innovative does not mean inventing; innovation can mean changing your business model and adapting to changes in your environment to deliver better products or services. Successful innovation should be an in-built part of your business strategy and the strategic vision, where you create an environment and lead in innovative thinking and creative problem solving. Some common themes around innovation

1. Conduct an analysis of the market environment, your customers wants and needs and competitors. Be open to new ideas and adaptive to change.

2. Develop a strategic responsive plan which includes innovation as a key business process across the entire business.

3. Leadership in innovation. Train and empower employees to think innovatively from the top down. Inspirational leadership and motivation is what drives innovation in business.

4. Connect with customers and employees to generate ideas for improving processes, products and services both internally and externally.

5. Seek advice. Utilise available resources, business advisors, grants and assistance to drive innovation in your business.

Generate ideas

In order to start increasing the flow of ideas required to generate innovation in your business, there are a number of basic characteristics which can be addressed.
These may include:
  • Developing an internal culture of innovation

Innovation requires strong leadership and a tangible vision across business. The internal culture of a business and the external culture in which it operates will influence the ability of a business to innovate.Innovation thrives in a culture that is not afraid of risk-taking, promotes the value of experimenting, is adaptable and rewards enterprise. Innovation usually needs to be led from the top management of the business.
  • Be flexible and open to new ideas

Managers need to adopt a positive attitude and focus on the potential for enhancing competitiveness through innovation. Listen to new ideas and ways of doing business, even if this means you have to change your current business model.
  • Allocate resources for innovation

The allocation of resources for innovation including finance and personnel is dependent on management understanding the benefits of new ideas. Unfortunately, business expenditure on innovation is often characterised as expenditure rather than investment, and improvements to operational processes may not be seen as innovation at all. Resources need to be allocated to innovation, even if it’s only giving employees time to come up with new ideas.
A free flow of information and ideas up, down and across the business encourages the development of new ways of performing tasks and can also lead to the development of new products. Processes which allow employees to suggest improvements and ideas, circulate these ideas and be rewarded for their entrepreneurial behaviour can be implemented.
  • Invest in research and development

Research and development can be used to enhance the productivity of your business. Grants, tax concessions and other funding programs are available to assist investment in R&D so you can develop your ideas.
  • Attend events, training and networking opportunities

Attend events, seminars and workshops to build your knowledge of innovation. A culture of continuous learning can be encouraged by supporting training programs and on the job training to enhance innovation skills.

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