Unlock your power to innovate
These days, innovation is a hot topic. Any self-respecting organization has innovation on its agenda and in big fancy letters on its web site. If your company doesn’t have innovation in its DNA you’re not one of the movers and shakers – or should I say disruptors and game changers - in the business world. We need to “innovate or die”, a maxim voiced many times at business and technology events and repeated in numerous publications over the past decade. Do a Google look-up on “innovation” and you will receive over 400 million search results.
So what is innovation and how can we nurture, harness and deploy it effectively? Is it all about brilliant brains inventing amazing stuff or clever copycats doing things better?
As we move into an era of connectivity, networks and platforms, the pace of change is accelerating at break-neck speed. New, disruptive business models appear, multiplatform self-service services are fast becoming the norm and the Internet of Things (IOT) generates real-time, contextual data driving personalized solutions. Organizations are becoming increasingly tech-led as they transform into digital businesses. They need to be agile and innovative in order to grasp the opportunities the new big-data era will offer whilst, at the same time, they need to ensure operational excellence.
Innovation is about discovery - where the destination is uncertain until you get there. This is in stark contrast with the day-to-day running of a business with set processes and clearly defined rules. However, innovation is essential to guarantee a sustainable future business. It is not just about inventing new and disruptive products and services. In fact the majority of innovations are based on improving or perfecting what’s already in place or deploying and combining existing technologies or processes in a new way or in a different environment.
The key to successful innovation is to be able to move from drawing board to business benefit. To achieve this, the following elements are essential to keep in mind:
- Diversity sparks innovation. By bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds, with different expertise and skill sets, age groups and gender, it will unlock different dynamics and viewpoints that are essential for creativity and innovation. A mixed team of baby-boomers, trend-setting millennials and digital natives from diverse nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds will provide a blend of completely different skill sets and will be able to identify and address new opportunities that others might not even see.
- Business social network unlock innovation potential. Spanning country borders and organizational siloes, an enterprise social network will encourage novel suggestions and compelling “outside of the box” ideas to be shared and discussed freely, unlocking the full potential of each individual. At Atos we have over 8,000 active communities on our internal social network, blueKiwi, and it’s an incredibly powerful tool for solving business and technology challenges and harnessing the collective mind power of over 90.000 employees to drive innovation.
- A “speak-up culture” and open leadership styles encourage environments where everyone can be heard, making it easy for employees to speak up and propose new ideas, giving teams decision-making authority and crediting successful individuals. It drives innovation within the workforce and often solicits the quietest voices in the room that might previously have held back valuable insights. Empowering team members to take risks and make decisions can make them feel valued and motivated, which in turn, encourages them to work to their full potential.
- Create a discovery community. Consider establishing innovation labs where employees can test and learn without excessive risk to your business. At Atos we have established a Scientific Community with 110 engineers from different backgrounds, expertise areas, culture, gender and age to work together on defining (disruptive) future business and technology advancements that will impact how we work and live. We look towards the future (Ascent Journey 2018 ) and translate it into the impact for business today through Proofs of Concept – often developed in partnership with our clients – that are presented in our Business Technology and Innovation Centers around the world.
How do you ensure innovations move from drawing board to business benefits? I look forward to learn about your experiences and suggestions.