Authors: Robert Sunker, Susan O’Connell and Donald Farmer
Innovation. Everyone’s talking about it, but beyond being just a buzzword, it’s worth asking, “Why?”
In general companies wish to innovate for three reasons:
Innovation, by its nature, entails free-flowing idea generation. Too many guardrails and limitations hinder progress. However, a lack of purpose and sustained focus on desired outcomes will similarly impede successful innovation.
Our ultimate purpose for innovation is to provide higher value to our clients. To best serve others, we recognized the need to first nurture a culture of innovation within RevGen.
Innovation is not easy to do. You can’t just tell employees to go forth and be creative. And innovation is not easy to manage. How do you measure the benefits of invention and govern the process?
The most important practice for all innovative companies is to be tolerant of failure. That does not mean being careless or blind to risk. It does mean recognizing that not all innovations succeed. When you are pushing at the boundaries of what is possible, sometimes you’ll push past the line.
Effective innovation requires understanding the risks, monitoring them, and being ready to redirect or refocus efforts when necessary.
It’s also important to recognize that innovation may emerge anywhere in your business. You can be innovative in hiring, in marketing, in sales, in product and service design, in supply-chain management, and even (but be careful) in finance.
A great way to infuse structure and focus in your approach to innovation is by starting with a comprehensive workshop to explore some basic ideas.
We started by establishing an Innovation Council consisting of some of our most dynamic thinkers and leaders. The Council worked with external advisors and select clients to identify guiding principles for a yearlong immersion in innovation:
With a company filled with smart, action-oriented people, we wanted to avoid the trap of diving in with no clear direction. We recognized that success hinges on something deeper and more meaningful than yet another “innovation lab” or fancy technology. Thus, we sought a method to drive toward our desired outputs with speed and agility.
If you’re looking for an innovation secret sauce, you may be disappointed. What you’ll see instead is a thoughtfully developed recipe with several significant stages. In particular, notice the regular checkpoints and the progress from many contributors to a few shared, collaborative ideas. At each step there’s an opportunity for ideas to be shelved without negativity (remember the tolerance for failure) or further enhanced by teamwork and external inputs.
We channeled the collective passion and intelligence of our RevGen colleagues and external advisors to immerse ourselves in innovation, have fun, and declare significant year one accomplishments:
In addition to evolving both of our POCs as potential solutions to bring to market, we are continuing to nurture and mature our innovation process.
As we continue to infuse innovation in everything we do as an organization, we’re positioning ourselves to add unparalleled value to our clients in the form of ideas and offerings. Like change, innovation starts at home.
Contact us to learn more about how RevGen can help your organization explore approaches to innovation.