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How to Drive Innovation in Your Organization

How to Drive Innovation in Your Organization

by Jefferson Co on and last update on August 13, 2020

Companies intending to get back on track and acquire the optimal level of efficiency might struggle to operate using established business models. The post-pandemic recovery will largely depend on how swift your company is in the adoption of innovation. What should you take into account when driving innovation and how to do it effectively?

What Is Innovation?

Innovation in business means developing new ideas that create value while solving customer problems. In other words, innovation can be described as a process where companies build solutions that successfully address current market needs and help optimize operations.

The Need for Innovation in Business During COVID-19 Recovery

According to McKinsey, most executives view innovativeness as critical to business operations. Over three quarters further agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a chance for growth for companies across industries.

Yet there’s a discrepancy between the clear growth potential in the crisis and the capability of businesses to actually embrace innovation. Faced with an unprecedented crisis, business leaders tend to be more focused on maintaining operations and ensuring satisfactory productivity results, not driving innovation.

However, innovation in business, especially during crises of current proportions, may as well be the key to future growth.

In fact, for some companies, innovating core business processes might be necessary to continue operations and be able to reach and serve customers. Also, relying on established processes could be difficult since customer expectations have changed and former channels prove inefficient.

As a result, short- and long-term strategies based on the data from the relatively predictable past years cease being valid. Thus calling for executives to find new ways how to navigate the post-pandemic reality.

Innovation might also be a differentiating factor, letting businesses stand out from competition. Streamlined digital sales channels, convenient payment options, touchless deliveries, and digital finalization of multiple formerly in-person transactions all meet the increasing consumer expectation for digital services.

In many cases, innovating will mean a complete overhaul of how certain core capabilities were delivered and consumed by customers. For example, tourism is one of the most affected industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. To conquer the huge losses, companies operating in the travel industry will need to innovate. How can they deliver services during periods where travel is heavily restricted? This means, for example, offering virtual tours to attract future customers or staying in touch with customers via engaging content.

How to Drive Innovation in Your Company

Driving innovation in your company is a multi-step process that involves a combination of appropriate tools, mindsets, and skills.

1. Work Out Key Challenges and Objectives

The journey toward innovation starts with working out key challenges and objectives. In other words, you need to assess how customer expectations have shifted with regard to the services and products you provide. For example, how to translate customer experiences for products purchased in brick-and-mortar shops to amplify customer engagement while they switch to online commerce. Or, how to increase property value by making it safer for use among tenants and office workers (e.g., touchless asset control).

To figure out the objectives, you have to analyze all customer touchpoints and find changes in expectations that can give you insight into what to innovate. Once you gain enough data, you can create new products and services for your customers while remodeling strategies.

In this step, including company leaders to help drive innovation is critical. From senior management to team leaders, leaders should be actively involved in implementing innovative ideas and analyzing their effectiveness. Leaders across the chain of command can aid in polishing and refining new strategies. Leaders should shore up the culture of innovation, bridging silos and suggesting further ideas for innovation.

2. Build on New Business Models and Strategies

Once you’ve defined what works in the post-pandemic business reality, you can start accelerating and evolving the development of these strategies and business models. You should also consider removing former channels from the strategy. This is especially valid if you need resources, assets, and tools to develop new strategies.

Shift resources to opportunities that have a chance to succeed as opposed to the strategies that are no longer valid in the current business context. Reallocation of funds for innovation helps drive it effectively, with adequate budgeting.

It helps to think agilely here. Look at everything as a learning opportunity and don’t be afraid to entirely drop ideas or pivot. 

Read: What is enterprise agility and why do businesses need it?

3. Scale and Extend

When patterns emerge and growth potential appears, you can think about scaling operations and extending your reach. Scaling operations means ensuring that your new products can be quickly manufactured and delivered to customers. This requires coordination along the whole supply chain to deliver rapidly upon increased demand.

The key to scalable innovation, however, is external collaboration. By accessing the skills and knowledge of businesses across geographic boundaries you can discover new opportunities for creating value to customers and ideas to innovate. Also, partnerships give companies an unparalleled opportunity to reach different customers.

Read: Solving communication gaps with a board portal

Innovation Is Key to Emerge Successful in Crisis

Rediscovering and rebuilding core business models around new customer expectations and business environment is critical to survive during a global crisis. Innovation helps companies navigate the fluctuating demands with a swift response. Building and strengthening the reshaped business models lets companies sail safely into the new post-pandemic world.


Governance and Leadership
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