“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it” – Steve Jobs
In the enormous wealth generation period of the 1800’s, people and businesses saw opportunity. They had global perspectives. People from around the world flooded into areas where gold was discovered: be it California in the United States, or Victoria in Australia.
All sorts of businesses flourished, from Mining Exchanges and suppliers of goods, to importers prefabricated houses. Today nearly all those businesses are gone, but ironically, Australia’s economy is being fueled by another mining boom. Many of these old businesses (providing manpower, infrastructure and exchanging resources) are back in demand.
Are things much different to 150 years ago? The businesses that were agile, fast moving and innovative were able to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that time offered. They were open to change, embraced it, and seized the day.
Today small and medium sized businesses also have incredible opportunities. While in the past you had to move mountains to contact customers and build relationships, social media and the online world making it incredibly easy to do things that were not possible only five years ago, let alone 150 years ago.
The internet age brings an incredible host of technologies, systems and opportunities to the door of local business, often with little or no cost. How are you set up to leverage the opportunities that are before your business, particularly in the powerful and the rapidly changing social media context?
To seize emerging and new opportunities, businesses need to innovate. For organisations to innovate, they need to create the mental, physical and financial space to innovate. If you are too busy fulfilling day to day operational demands, its often impossible to innovate. Rekindle that entrepreneurial spirit and carve out some space for innovation:
- Tell your employees you are creating an Innovation Space
- This can be 15-20 minutes in your regular team meeting or set aside a couple of hours, preferably off-site, just for the purpose
- Ensure all staff feel relaxed and able to contribute ideas
- Accept all ideas and list them. Have your team vote on a prioritised order and then let management make the decision which ones to go after (maybe just one a month)
- Keep the list alive, review it each month and importantly seek new ideas each session
- Reward your staff for great ideas, whether they work or not, and let them run with ones they are passionate about
- Your staff will often generate better innovations than the owner and your employee engagement will sky-rocket
It’s easy, give it a go. Your team and customers will begin to notice the buzz and excitement that ‘change’ is in the air. And better still, you will have a growing list of great ideas and you will find some that work.
If you need help creating your Innovation Space or need facilitated sessions, contact OptimizeBusiness.email@example.com or phone Australia 0448516151.
© 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA: OptimizeBusiness.firstname.lastname@example.org