By Alison Coleman*

 

What are the barriers to new thinking and innovation in your organization and how do they impact on your business’s growth? Read on to find out

Innovation and creativity are the engines of business growth, but all too often other factors create barriers and cause those engines to stall.

How do you overcome them and keep business innovation on cruise control? Here are five ways to change the way you approach new thinking.

Lose your fear of risk-taking

When Steve Jobs entered the tablet market, did he know that Apple would become the top tablet vendor in the world? Perhaps not, yet he took a big risk, and that’s what counts. Businesses that are afraid of risk can miss valuable opportunities for innovation and growth.

Foster a culture of calculated risk-taking. Encourage staff to think through each risk scenario carefully, gather as much data as possible, evaluate the odds of success – and failure – and then determine if a risk is worth taking.

Have a flexible operating structure

Innovation often stalls in organizations with hierarchical models that promote micromanagement and a “command and control” style of leadership. Most start-ups are flat and agile, so the key is to retain that structure as the business scales.

One of the best ways to do that is to keep communication lines open, says Shellye Archambeau, chief executive officer of tech firm MetricStream.

“Listen to people. When someone suggests a new idea, discuss how it could work,” she says. “Try saying ‘yes’ more often and provide opportunities for feedback and improvement, both top-down and bottom-up.”

Don’t let the past kill the future

Times change and what worked well in past may not be in demand tomorrow, and that can be a hard thing for successful businesses to accept. As a result, the legacy business creates a barrier, innovation fails to flourish and new ideas are killed because they could threaten existing revenue streams.

Michael Karg, chief executive officer of digital agency Razorfish International, says: “For innovation to take off, especially when it has the potential to eat into the existing revenue streams, it should be structurally separate and protected from the legacy business.”

Rethink capital spend

“This effectively turns what might have been a significant capital expense to an operating expense, potentially freeing up funds for other strategic investments,” he says.

Engage your people

Some of the best business innovations emerge as solutions to customers’ problems. You can give incentives to staff at the coalface, who are most aware of those problems by offering bonuses for innovating.

Brian Millar, head of strategy at innovation firm Sense Worldwide, says: “If there are people inside your organization who resist change, involve them upfront in any innovation initiative. Listen to their objections, get them in front of your customers, and help them to come to their own epiphanies.”

 

*Alison Coleman is a freelance editor and writer

Source " The Telegraph"