23 Mar 2017

Innovation for SMEs – five strategies for success

Fostering an innovative culture in your organisation is not easy but it is possible.

Innovation needs to be threaded through the DNA of an organisation, not just bolted on as an afterthought.

You need a strategic plan designed to accelerate innovation, a program to embed innovation in your organisation.

Here are five tips to help you build that strategy.

1. Lead the way

Unless the CEO prioritizes innovation, it won’t happen. Innovation requires the acceptance of risk-taking and failure by executives. The best growth companies create a culture of innovation, which is led from the top. People have to have the feeling that suggesting new ideas is welcome and encouraged.

2. Don’t just focus on problems

While it is important to focus on existing problems that users face and solve them with ideas and solutions, organizations must not focus solely on solving problems. They must also focus on creating new opportunities and disrupting current ways of doing things.

3. There are no shortcuts

Don’t expect to find a magic formula. Instead, try to make gradual improvements. They may be as simple as tinkering with a process, adjusting a product for a new market or exploring new ways of marketing.

4. Use external stimuli

Insular thinking is fatal for many organizations. Some problems need a jolt of external insight. Larger companies can invite a small group of "thought leaders" from other organizations to join a collaborative innovation session for a day, while smaller organisations can provide external training for relevant employees. Each option can accelerate the innovation process.

5. Know when to pull the plug

Not every idea or project is destined for success – successful organizations realize this and know when to pull the plug. Halting a project is a difficult decision especially when time, effort, and resources have already been invested. But, in many cases, it is inevitable.

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