Your Innovation Mindset – Is there really anything new these days?
Your mindset is your most important asset when seeking innovation. Self-limiting beliefs is the enemy of progress. If you think innovation is impossible, you’re right, it is impossible, at least for you it is.
Take a leap of faith! You might have to change the rules, but that is the fun part of innovation, challenge the status quo! Instead of focusing on limitations, turn your attention to what is working elsewhere and consider how it might be applied to your business.
Examine what is working OUTSIDE of your industry or niche. Don’t copy what your competitors are doing, in fact, some agents of positive change say do the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing! Be creative and offer something totally unique in your niche.
Your Innovation Dream Team: Two Heads ARE Better Than One
There is truth to the saying “two heads are better than one.” It’s a proven fact that working in teams brings about solutions that would not exist otherwise. There is something magical about two or more minds working together towards a common goal. In fact it is one Napoleon Hill’s 17 Principles of Success and Achievement, which states:
Success and achievement comes with the collective collaboration of two or more minds working together in perfect harmony towards the attainment of a common goal.
Assemble a team of your most critical thinkers and challenge them to come up with ideas, solutions and case studies. Create a mastermind group that meets regularly to focus on specific challenges.
- Using mind mapping to explore ideas, document ideas to bring about clear understanding
- Use Mind Storming to generate solutions to ideas/problems
Make the encouragement of new ideas part of your overall business strategy. Most importantly create an incentive program for your employees to reward ideas.
Discover Success in Failure: Persistent Testing Leads to Innovation, Eventually
Test, fail, test, fail, test, fail AND WIN! – Keep testing! Many of your tests will fail but some produce the results that make the failures unimportant. You have to take some risk of failure when seeking innovation to discover what succeeds. In many cases, especially when testing your marketing process, the only way to test effectively is to put your test in front of real people. Their response to your test is your result. Testing live like this takes courage and commitment. This is why most businesses are not innovators in their field and are instead copy-cats
How to Improve Business Processes: 4 Simple Steps to Operational Excellence
Many years ago I discovered a powerful method of applying technology that resulted in multi-million dollar business improvements as well as an entire business line generating over $40 million in annual revenue delivering lost baggage for the airlines. This simple four-step process can be applied to any business, no matter how big or small.
- Standardize – standardize language and terms, prices, processes and performance metrics
- Simplify – once you standardize, examine your processes and look for areas to improve
- Automate – take the areas you identified in the simplification step and look to technology to automate and streamline processes
- Measure – measure the before and after to be sure you are making progress towards improved efficiency
Finally, rinse and repeat! Innovation is an iterative process, it never ends! Here are five areas on which to focus your attention.
5 Critical Innovation Focus Areas
Some of the most dramatic improvements in business come from the innovative delivery of service. Wikipedia reports, the first recorded use of a bank using a drive up window teller was the Grand National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri in 1930. The drive up teller only allowed deposits at that time period. The drive-thru was adopted by the fast-food industry and changed the face, and belt-lines, of the American public!
Ask your mastermind group to focus on these areas to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Customer service – start winning with excellent customer support and delivery of service
- Operations – manage by exception. Many waste time micro-managing instead of solving problems that arise from exceptions (TIP: Exceptions are opportunities for innovation!)
- Marketing – Target a specific customer group and create a product or service built for them only
- Sales – Personalized and persistent follow-up
- Finance – streamline invoice, audit, payment and collection processes, eliminate waste and leverage the resources of others (especially other peoples’ money!)
Ask for Feedback: A Never Ending Source of Innovation
If you really want to challenge the status quo, ask your customers what they want then give it to them! Most business owners are afraid to ask, and completely miss this golden opportunity. Don’t be that business owner. Encourage customer, employees, contractors and vendors to provide input. Ask and you shall receive!
In conclusion, there are endless possible sources of innovation. You can innovate in even the most mundane or (seemingly) commodity business but you must; adopt a mindset of ‘anything is possible,’ create an innovation dream team, look outside your industry and model what is working there, examine your delivery of service and business processes, be willing to fail and test relentlessly. Then standardize, simplify, automate and measure your way to innovation!
How do you bring about innovation in your business? I like to hear about it. Go ahead and leave a comment below.
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