How To Innovate in Business

Invention, as the word implies, is to come up with a new device or use that did not exist before. Innovation is creating something new from an idea or concept or approach and when applied to a business can spell success.

In the current state of the American economy as well as that of the world, innovation is sorely needed. It is always welcome for individuals who work or supervise work to be innovative in order for the business to grow and flourish.

The practice of innovation in modern companies has been so successful that it has now become a regular session involving managers as well as rank and file staff members. Brainstorming, to mention one scheme, has been used in many advertising agencies as well as media companies. However, other types of businesses like manufacturing, distribution and even marketing do make use of brainstorming from time to time. Why, you may ask, do primarily ad agencies and media firms use brainstorming sessions?

As one of the sources of generating ideas individually and as a group, brainstorming in ad agencies requires creativity to be flowing most of the time if not all the time, because the commodity and service of these types of firms are creativity. That is the ingredient of the cause of their existence in order to serve the needs of their clients. 

A word of caution however is that before implementing a brainstorming session in a company it is imperative to invite one facilitator already well versed in the implementation and evaluation of this activity known as brainstorming. The danger of implementing it without prior training and experience can be detrimental to all.

In writing, the approach of a training consultant, developing the habit of creativity and that of innovation are the same. For training programs a prior step is what trainers call “training needs analysis”. In innovation the practice can be installed using the tool known as “needs analysis”. This step is finding out existing conditions or ideas. Only when one knows what is there, can one take the step of “changing” what is there. It should also be made clear that teamwork must be present in innovation  so that everyone works through the stages of creating an internal or external innovation together.

One obstacle to creativity, I am afraid, is the kind of people involved in the session. If one were to establish the habit of brainstorming and innovating, it is imperative that the leader—be he the manager or subordinates should be secure in their own selves. Any remark like “that is silly” or “what a crazy idea” will never make a session flourish. In fact, these remarks can kill creativity on the spot. It is really an important step prior to sessions for innovation that individuals be secure and open. Dictatorial managers and one track minded persons should not be a part of these creative sessions.

Today and everyday it is good to know that innovation is not just for individuals who like to invent! If a company did not continue researching through innovation we would not have cell phones, or flash drives or iPods, to carry around and if the big M had not innovated, we would not have Windows operating systems. If car manufacturers had stopped innovating, we would all still be driving Model T's Fords.



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