Should You Hire an Innovation Consultant?

Two men in business suits discussing an idea using a tablet and laptop.

Finding the road to innovation can be difficult because there’s no one map that leads you to it. Often, companies will turn to a guide, an innovation consultant, to put them on the path to more creative, flexible thinking. What does an innovation consultant do, and does your company need one?

What Is Innovation Consulting?

Innovation consulting is about laying the groundwork for innovation in your organization. This can range from changing how ideas are routed through your company to coaching leaders on regaining their innovative edge to teaching an entire organization how to focus their creativity on their goals. While innovation consultants can pitch in on the innovation process, their focus tends to be more on teaching your organization to fish for ideas, rather than catching them for you.

Do I Need An Innovation Consultant?

Your needs will depend on the scale and goals of your organization. However, a good metric to use is to ask yourself a few basic questions. Are employees offering ideas to you or their supervisors? Are those ideas being considered and by whom? Do you regularly see creativity applied to the challenges your company faces? Are you happy with the answers to these questions? If the answer to any of these, particularly the last one, is “no,” then you need to take a closer look at innovation, and a consultant can help.

Another point to consider is that you don’t have to be aiming to build the next iPhone to benefit from a consultant’s perspective. Even the most conservative or commodity-driven industries should be finding new efficiencies, developing new approaches, or opening new markets. For example, a restaurant might use innovation to improve kitchen operations or make it easier for customers to place to-go orders.

Group of colleagues discussing data using graphs and charts.

What Should I Look For In An Innovation Consultant?

The best innovation consultant is somebody who understands your industry and organization and can challenge you to think differently about your approach. Much like innovation itself, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to the job, so you may speak with several consultants before finding the right one.

One point that will help your search is to have clear goals for your organization in mind. An innovation consultant will ask you why you’ve chosen those goals and what you believe you’ll need to accomplish to make them happen. Then they’ll work with you to determine what you and your team can do to move forward.

What If I’m Already Innovative?

Even the most robust structures need maintenance. No matter how strong your innovation approach is, every idea can use outside feedback. Innovation consultants are brought in for “tune-ups” just as often as they are called upon to build innovation from first principles in an organization.

Just like no truly brilliant innovation is invented by a lone genius on a hill, no great innovation system is built in a company without many different hands pitching it to help build it. An innovation consultant can help you tap into the creativity of your team. To learn more about innovation consultants, contact us!

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