Any form of creativity needs direction, and this is as true of business innovation as anything else. Aligning business goals and innovation strategy is the key to reaching those goals and developing effective innovation.
Look At Goals
Any organization has two sets of goals: the short-term, which can tend more towards the practical and financial, and the long-term, which can be more visionary. The two should interact. For example, if your long-term goal is to shift from an industry you feel is beginning to fade in relevance to one that’s rising, often your short-term goals should reflect the details of what needs to happen for that change.
Remember as well that every team will have its own short-term and long-term goals, whether it’s getting that new product out the door or upgrading their systems and processes to better support other departments. You should have everyone’s goals in mind when encouraging innovation, and give individual teams the equipment they need to reach those goals.
Embrace All Forms of Innovation
Not every form of innovation makes sense for every business plan. Very often the most visible form of innovation is transformative: the iPhones, the Teslas, and the other brilliant, world-changing ideas. Less celebrated, but as important, is incremental innovation, where small changes collect over time to add up to breakthroughs, while the changes themselves have a strong, if sometimes localized, effect. If your short-term goal is to increase operational efficiency, you likely need more incremental innovators.
Incremental innovation is easier for teams to embrace because it’s less risky. Nobody in the accounting department will object to a better invoicing system, but some may be concerned if you want to put the books in the cloud and automate the more repetitive processes. Encouraging the entire company to lean into both forms of innovation, with a focus on their goals, will be key.
Refine Towards Goals
Any idea you come across will need to be refined to some degree. Just like iron ore can be turned into steel girders or frying pans, refinement can radically change how an idea is implemented. During that refinement process, you should ask your team how the idea can contribute to a long or short-term goal.
This doesn’t mean that ideas they can’t see reaching a goal should be set aside, but asking the question usually inspires focus, and may offer a new approach to a goal.
Make Innovation And Reaching For Goals Continuous
Both reaching for your goals and coming up with innovative ideas are not one-and-done events at work. Work to keep both your goals and the need for new approaches toward them at the top of your team’s mind. This is especially true with long-term challenges and goals, which can easily fall by the wayside in day-to-day processes.
Innovation is a mindset, and having tools available to collect ideas and encourage new approaches helps keep your team in that mindset. To learn more about innovation tools, contact us today!