Six Tips to Improve Business InnovationBy Chris Bye

When it comes to business today, it seems business innovation is the buzziest word around.

Everyone wants to be an innovator, a thought leader, a market disruptor.

Everyone wants to push forward business innovation and be know for being trailblazers in their industry.

But, before you don your black turtleneck and call yourself the next Steve Jobs, there are a few preliminary steps you should take.

Fears Kill Business Innovation

To be truly innovative, you must be fearless.

Business innovation requires you to push the envelope. Your company can’t be built with employees who are afraid of the unknown.

Stock your offices with smart, creative thinkers who are eager to break out of their comfort zones.

It’s in that space—the road less traveled—that the best ideas can flourish.

Treat Customers Like Friends

Generating viable, innovative ideas means knowing your customers really well. After all, you’re worthwhile business innovation should always aim to solve a customer’s needs, so why not go to the source?

Get out there and interact with people directly, get to know them—when you intimately understand their wants and needs, it’s easy to identify market opportunities or industries that are ripe for disruption.

Even if your current business innovation “Big Idea” didn’t come from a customer, you should still vet it with your customers.

You may think it’s a home run idea or product but, when put in front of its intended audience, find out it’s a dud.

You should be talking to your customers early and often, iterating based on their feedback, and keeping your ear open for follow-up discussions.

Fortunately, users don’t usually get sick of airing their opinions, so you should have no shortage of takers.

Business Innovation Requires You to Look Outside the Box

If you’re only looking to your top executives or only to the “traditional” creatives to generate new ideas and business innovation, you’re completely ignoring a goldmine of opportunity.

Everyone has ideas—some are world changing, some are good but not great, and some are just bad.

But ideas of all kinds should be welcome in your business, because that nurturing spirit encourages your teams to constantly think, solve problems, see opportunities for business innovation, and investigate unique markets.

That’s one thing we hold true to at Tonic. We want anyone and everyone to throw their ideas into the mix, and we’re not a homogenous mix of talent. We intentionally recruit people from all walks of life; from a cellphone salesman looking for something more, to a pastor pursuing a career change, to a pharmaceutical market researcher in search of a new and refreshing career path.

We don’t look for people with the most design or development experience; we look for the right people, with the right attitude and drive. Each of them plays a huge role in our idea-generating prowess. 

Surround Yourself with Creatives

Some companies tout the benefits of having a single Idea Czar in the ranks—one person responsible for finding new ideas, vetting them, and bringing business innovation into reality.

If you’re really aiming to be a dramatically innovative, disruptive company, you should have more eyes on that prize.

Don’t settle for just one Idea Czar or Innovation Champion, because just one wont cut it.

Have a System of Checks and Balances

Though it’s important to have innovative minds churning, it’s just as important to have folks who can wrangle the sometimes-wandering minds of your Idea Czars.

When creatives get into an idea, they sometimes put on blinders; it’s hard to think about the negatives or assess the feasibility of a project when it’s all they can see.

Business innovation requires both ideas and logistics. You need an executive management team that can simultaneously let your creative thinkers run free and redirect them when things get too far off-track.

Business Innovation Requires Communication

There are countless mediums through which you can talk to potential partners, industry influencers, thought leaders, and customers. But when you’re spread too thin, none of your messages hit their marks.

You need to constantly explore new technologies (it seems they’re being debuted on a daily basis now) that will help you communicate more effectively—in the right place, at the right time, to the right people, with the right messages—to everyone in your target group.

What other tips do you have for increasing business innovation?

photo credit: dreaming hands via photopin (license) and the Canva stylings of Laura Petrolino

P.S. Because of Passover and Good Friday, there will be no blog posts tomorrow. Have a happy holiday weekend!

Chris Bye

Chris Bye is CEO and co-founder of Philadelphia-based, Tonic Design Co.. Recently named one of Philadelphia's 100 fastest-growing companies, Tonic is a digital product design firm that believes in building products that are beautiful, inside and out.

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