In small organisations, suggesting a new idea and being able to integrate it within the company is relatively easy, however if you apply the same logic to large and well-established businesses, there is very little chance of getting an idea out there.
But why is this the case? In this article, I discuss with innovation expert Chris Bárez-Brown how CEOs and HR Directors can bring innovation to the forefront of the company.
Unlike other business factors such as a person’s values or productivity, innovation is a lot harder to describe, measure and thus act on.
Innovation needs to be a company-wide way of working and should be encouraged from the bottom up to truly integrate it in to everyday processes.
So, let’s start with the basics; where does the inspiration for innovation come from?
Chris highlights how the best source of inspiration is in fact other people. Every person you meet every single day will teach you something new, and it is more likely than not that you don’t realise it.
We all have our unique ways of experiencing creativity, innovation and leadership and when you experience other people’s preferred ways, you are learning and developing.
Although I mentioned that it’s much harder to measure innovation than other factors in the workplace, you still need to try!
Chris’s favourite quote is ‘What’s counted often doesn’t count, and what counts often can’t be counted’ and I think this sums up innovation perfectly.
The most important thing to do is simply define what sort of innovation business leaders are after – it then becomes more possible to measure it.
Someone may say to me they are looking to promote disruptive innovation in their company, but when I describe the meaning of disruptive innovation, they want the complete opposite; incremental innovation.
I also asked Chris what he believes is the biggest obstacle of innovation, and the word he kept coming back to was ‘culture’.
Yes the right processes and strategies are important, but culture is the overriding factor. Having the right culture includes everything from ensuring managers showup to meetings on time to the way they deal with failure and how they inspire other members of staff to be themselves and have confidence.
When discussing innovation, confidence is crucial because employees need to follow their passions, their beliefs and aspirations in order to be creative and innovative.
When it comes to implementing innovation within large companies, technology often plays an important role. This is a topic I discussed in great deal when I met with Chris, and he expressed how technology allows us to innovate even when we are by ourselves
iPads and similar appliances easily allow members of staff to have several windows open at once and see objects, projects or reports in high quality, whilst also sharing them with people across the world at the same time.
Over the next ten years, we expect innovation to adapt and change significantly.
With the use of technology, businesses have access to more ideas, inspiration and methods of communication than in the past.
Having access to larger groups of people virtually means ideas can be bounced around and people can input and challenge them until the ideal plan of action is made. Chris also believes that there is going to be a large attitudinal shift, as the rate of change is increasing and consumers are now demanding that this rate of change is maintained.
Conversations between consumers and business leaders are going to follow the trend of ‘this is what I want, this is what I do not want’ as people demand their exact needs to be met.
About Stephen Fortune
Stephen joined the Oxford Group in 2016 as a Principal Consultant. His experience extends across a range of high profile projects and clients including The Children’s Trust, ED&F Man, Gilead, Novartis, Legal & General, Rabobank, Johnson Press, Sainsbury’s and William Hill and now The Oxford Group.
The Oxford Group is a people-focused business driven by a passion for helping organisations get the best from their people, unleash hidden talent and successfully manage their business through times of change. Since 2015 The Oxford Group has been part of The City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development, which enables people and organisations develop their skills for personal and economic growth. For more information, visit www.oxford-group.com