Innovation - Why its important, how companies innovate.

Many companies lack innovative ideas. They may be relatively good at what they do and they may even make mild improvements in those areas, but while they are doing that, they miss major breakthroughs and new concepts that could really change the company’s landscape for the long term. Alignment to the customer is key to unlocking innovation and when organizations are aligned to the customer they can see patterns and trends and begin to anticipate what the customer will want and need next.

Innovative ideas do not really come from any one place. They usually sit on the edge of a company’s radar screen or maybe even beyond that realm. The activities within the idea are not necessarily part of the company’s regular business plan. In order to be genuinely innovative, companies have to change the frames of mind and extend the space in which they search for new ideas. New ways of thinking, new levels of organization and many other aspects may also be required.

Nothing about creating innovation within a company is easy. Companies, however, that recognize great opportunities and jump on them are able to do much better than they competitors in almost any field. That is very important in a tough economy where technology is changing faster by the minute. There are several things companies can do in order to watch for innovative ideas and create innovation within their ranks.

1. Build Mock Scenarios
Some companies hire teams or writers from many different perspectives to create a variety of complex scenarios surrounding what the future and the future markets may look like. The writers imagine opportunities, threats, collaborators, partners and much more. These scenarios can come in very useful to the company. The company may see opportunities that arise sooner rather than later and it also may be able to prepare for the most likely future outcomes.

2. Leverage the Internet
Companies can create web sites that end up being huge pools of ideas. The company can actually look for help solving business, technological, economic or other problems within the website. The company can offer cash rewards for winners who post the best solutions. This plan is a great way to get thousands of different minds working on the same problem. The company can then simply choose the most innovative solution and implement it.

3. Enlist Users
Most companies know that satisfied customers are one of the most important aspects of doing a good business. But those customers and users can go even farther to help the company. Users have different points of view from the company and can offer insights on the products and services offered. If there is something frustrating about the service or something not quite right about the product, these users can help the company figure out ways to fix the problem. They will also feel much more invested in the company and likely be even more loyal to the brand.

4. Research
Research can tell a company a lot about the market and it can also inadvertently point out ideas and innovations that the company may not have otherwise noticed.

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David Peterson

David G. Peterson is a business consultant and author of Handling the Remedy. He has extensive international experience managing projects and operations for large financial institutions. He has worked in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia skillfully managing business and technical requirements, core systems enhancement and support, merger and acquisition integration's, business process reengineering, off-shoring and outsourcing.