What is innovation and how do you become innovative?

Disruption happens fast. Your organisation can go from hero to zero in an amazingly short time if your competition finds a new market before you. If you are selling commodity services in a stagnant market, you might well be raking in large amounts of cash every month – but you are not growing. You are most likely in decline and the only thing to do is to invest in innovation. But think fast, else your competitors will do it before you!

We know that for organisations to stay alive on their market today, they need to be ahead of competition – meaning, they need to be innovative and respond quickly to changes. To do that, all business units within the organisation need to be aligned and heading towards the same end goal. But there is often a gap between IT and the rest of the organisation’s business units. The business often does not understand how extremely important the role of IT is within their organisation, and IT often lacks the business understanding. To close this gap, it is extremely important to have a common goal between business and IT and thereby creating the organisation’s winning, innovative mindset.

 

But how do you do that?

 

First things first: There is a lot of confusion about what innovation actually is, and what it means being an innovative organisation. If you look up the word ‘innovation’ you get thousands of results and hundreds of explanations, but you are probably nowhere closer to a conclusion on what innovation exactly is, or how to help your organisation to be more innovative. 

In our opinion; Innovation is not a competition about the best idea for the most-grand design, the best code or the newest technology solution. In our opinion, Innovation is about MINDSET!

You can apply all the methods in the world to try to become innovative. Call it what you want, SAFe, Kanban, Scrum, DevOps, Agile, Lean. But it won’t work if it is not implemented by a vision and applied with the right mindset.

To us, innovation means identifying a problem and providing a solution to that problem in a creative way. It sometimes takes new and complex technological solutions to solve the problem, but being innovative means thinking creatively, and sometimes all we need is taking existing solution and adjust it to a new situation.

To be able to see opportunities where others see trouble, you need to understand the problem you are facing, you need to have an innovative and solutions-based mindset within your organisation and you need to be open for new ideas - or new use of existing ideas. 

 

To help you creating the organisation’s innovative mindset, we gathered a few tips for you:

Tip 1: Identify a need.
Product development and innovation is about identifying a problem or an unmet need and finding the simplest and most effective way to finding a solution to it. IT organisations often focus more on the technical aspect of the solutions area, and are under the impression that the solution to a problem is implementing more expensive software, new expensive hardware, or putting in hundreds of hours in programming for new applications. But technologically complex solutions are not always what is needed, especially if the solution is not aimed at solving the right problem. Sometimes all of the above is needed, but being innovative means thinking creatively, and sometimes all we need is taking an existing solution and adjust it to a new situation.

 

Tip 2: Know your customers
An important factor to be able to understand the problem you are facing, is to understand your customers. Your customers are your business, if you focus on your customers, you are far ahead of many others. There is often a disconnect between IT and customers, but IT departments and IT organisations need to figure out who their customers are, what they really want and what they really need. You have to have a way for your customers to be heard – they need to feel valued and you have to understand the problem you are solving for them. How you choose to collect and utilise customer feedback is up to you, but you also have to make sure that their opinion matters.

Tip 3: Create a healthy Organization.
Have a clearly defined vision and mission and work to align your staff with it, so that everyone within your organization knows where they are heading and all strive to reach the same end goal. Note that your vision and mission statements need to be clear and simple – don’t allow any room for misinterpretation and make yourself available to help your staff to implement the vision.
Another important factor is that your employees need psychological security. Just like your customers, your employees need to feel valued and that it is safe for them to express their ideas, concerns, questions and or mistakes without the fear of being punished. Your employees are the people in the everyday operations, they are the people best in identifying a need, or opportunity for improvements. Creating an innovative culture means, creating a healthy environment for your employees and your business to flourish. So, encourage your people to improve, personally, professionally and in their work environment. Remember, you hired your employees for a reason: You need them - as they are the ones doing the work so that your organisation can reach it’s goals.

Tip 4: Flexible Staffing.
It is incredible how fast things are moving in the world right now. Technological developments happen almost daily and if you want to keep up, you might need to acquire a knowledge or a specialist today that you did not need yesterday. 
Here is where flexible staffing comes in.
Traditional hiring processes can take a long time and be very expensive for a company. In addition, finding the right available person is hard. The process might not even make any sense if you are only looking for a specialised skillset for short periods of time. Few organisations possess all the expertise and talent they need for constantly evolving demands for new capabilities, systems and tools. To fill up in these knowledge gaps, managers should consider hiring consultants and other contractors such as project managers, developers, scrum masters or agile coaches, to name a few. The benefits of this are many; knowledge transfer, quicker response to change, faster development and a deeper understanding and focus on the tasks at hand. 

Many organisations avoid hiring contractors at all costs because they believe that to be a more expensive solution. Choosing to hire flexible staffing might be expensive in the short-term but will most likely save your organization money and time in the long-term. It is much costlier to hire specialists and then having to keep them on payroll after a project is done, than it is hiring a contractor temporarily. Also, the best thing about contractors is: When the project is done, the flexi-staff is gone!

 

Final words:

Developing an innovative mindset is a process and creating an innovative organisation is an even bigger process. There is no “Right way” to do it, but if you truly want to get there, focusing on the 4 tips we mentioned above is a good start in your journey towards developing the winning mindset of a true innovator.

For more interesting blogposts click here

We at CoreMotif have years of experience in IT Management Consulting. We take on wide variety of projects for companies, with good reputation, often helping with bridging the gap between business and IT.

If you want to know more about us, go ahead and take a look at our website:www.coremotif.comand please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any interest or questions for us. We are always happy to hear from you.