Everything starts with people. Regardless of if you are a B2B or B2C company, when looking into innovation, you need to start with the people. it is important to remember as a starting point that whatever activities your company carries out, in one way or another, it is for people and to be able to innovate properly, you need to understand how to work with people.
To break this down further, there are a few important things to note about innovation and having the people at the centre of your strategy or innovation-related tactics:
- Leading: When you work on innovation-related topics, it is important that the people inside the organization are empowered and supported to take the steps and the learnings themselves while also having the possibility to fail on their own which gives them the opportunity to evaluate, learn fast and take decisions. If you handle this in a top-down manner where you (as the leader of the team) takes all the decisions, you are limiting the possibilities of innovation in your company.
- Learning: It is important that learning opportunities are created for everyone in the company. This learning system will start with your employees but doesn’t end there, your customers need to be integrated into this learning process as well, thereby creating an ecosystem which can then branch out into a full-blown external ecosystem with startups, partners, advisors etc depending on how far you want to go. This is important as it enables you, your employers and customers to learn altogether, and together you are much stronger than when you try to do it all yourself. IKEA has even taken it a step further by working with a competitor to produce something extraordinary.
- Navigating: There’s the saying “what gets measured get’s done” but the tricky thing is usually, what gets measured is the past but with innovation, more often than not, you need to create new KPIs and new ways of thinking that lets you measure how you get to those numbers and how you navigated with the ecosystem to get to where you are.
This is a different way of thinking about systematic innovation, which is basically keeping the people at the centre and working from the people outward.
When it comes to accelerating an innovation system, it is all about having a systematic way of implementation. A flow you can adopt is:
- Evaluate: starting off, you need to understand what is going on currently both internally and externally in terms of company culture and innovation culture.
- Imagine: You need to then be able to look at the future in a different way to get a rough idea of the different influencers/managers in the ecosystem you have to collaborate with
- Initiate: next you should figure out how to implement with speed, with the right partners and begin to earn money as soon as possible. You don’t have to have it 100% right in this phase
- Navigate: Finally, you can now scale it up, navigating your way using the knowledge and people you have built up along the way.
Depending on what you are working on, this process might look really long on paper but can actually be achieved quickly.