Design Innovation is not just about coming up with new ideas and products— it’s also about changes that lead to growth and differentiation. Before you address new products, services, technologies, and processes, you need a foundation that leads to innovation. Here are 6 factors that will help foster an organisation of innovation:
Leadership in design innovation
Innovation means change, experimentation, and new ideas which are inherently risky. If a company leader is risk averse then the company and employees will be risk averse. The best leaders that I have met who promote innovation are people who have been entrepreneurs and have worked in the marketplace. They are comfortable with risk and are willing to take the chances necessary to grow. If the leader is not fully supportive of a creative environment and doesn’t inspire the employees to take chances, it will not happen.
Tolerance of experimentation
Pushing authority down to the people who do the work means empowering them to experiment with new processes and procedures. This entails a culture that promotes risk-taking and pushing employees out of their comfort zones. It means convincing them that they do not have to fear criticism and reprisals for their mistakes and rewarding them for their successes.
Hiring creative people
Why is it that small start-up companies often have more than their fair share of creative people compared to a 500 person mid-size manufacturer? Could it be that as the company grew and added employees that the organisation automatically changed to include more rules, controls, and management tools to manage more people? Once this level is attained, flexibility and innovation can get crushed and the hiring of new employees will turn to safe employee profiles and against the oddballs that may be creative. To re-create the innovation culture, some companies have developed teams of creative people, formed separate organisations to develop new ideas, or purchased a start-up company.
Having a product development process
Structured processes are often seen as the enemy of creativity. But some of the most successful manufacturers have a defined process. If you are committed to developing new products and services you really need to develop a process that everyone understands. The process will enhance the chances of success from ideas to market introduction.
The best organisation to promote a culture of innovation is a flat and de-centralised organisation where authority is continually pushed down to the people who are doing the work. I call this a “prospector” organisation, and I find it to be a type of manufacturing organisation that works well in a changing environment. A prospector’s prime capability is in finding and exploiting new product and market opportunities.
Indeed, formalisation is a means of reducing the probability that “deviant” behaviour will occur but, in many instances, this is exactly the type of behaviour the Prospector is attempting to encourage. Deviant behaviour and creativity often go hand in hand.
Some organisations are designed to monitor a wide range of environmental trends, market changes, and customer problems. The prospector, therefore, invests heavily in individuals and groups who can scan the environment for potential opportunities. A good prospector organisation always has at least one person who can interview customers and assess markets to find new ideas for growth on a continuous basis.
If your company decides to find new customers in new markets, you will inadvertently commit yourself to new products and services. This is an opportunity. That said, new processes may be just as important as new products.
If you your are looking for innovative design, we approach each project with a fresh perspective and broad, up-to-date knowledge of materials and the latest manufacturing techniques, we can and do find ways of making products more efficiently and less expensively than you would expect.
Read more: The Drive to Innovate