To be successful over a sustained period, you need to ensure that you are building innovation into your business. You need to be coming up with clever ideas all the time – and to be encouraging your workforce to do the same.

Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, was constantly thinking of innovations to make his business even better.  Ford once said: ‘The air is full of ideas.  They are knocking you in the head all the time.  You only have to know what you want’ – a quotation that is as meaningful today as it was in the late 19th century.

1. Make innovation part of your business culture

People sometimes claim that they’re ‘not an ideas person’ or see innovation as a painful process.  Instead of placing it in a silo, either for someone else to worry about or to be conveniently forgotten, innovation needs investment – in time, space and resources.  By making time for innovation, building it into the fabric of your business, you will become more skilful at dreaming up the ideas that will go on to help your enterprise flourish.

2. Ideas can come from anywhere

The seed of an idea could come from a comment made by a client or a suggestion from a supplier.  It could be something you heard on the news or read in a social media post.  If something strikes you as curious or exciting, make a note of it immediately and consider how you might turn it into an opportunity?

Time away from your business allows you the space to think so make sure that you are taking those all-important breaks.  Albert Einstein said he got his best ideas while shaving.  Who knows what ideas will come to you when you are out for a run or walking the dog.

3. It’s OK to fail

Failure is part of the learning process. Innovation inevitably carries risk, but you will never move your business forward unless you’re willing to push the boundaries. If it takes half a dozen failures before you arrive at the solution that works, most entrepreneurs would claim that to be a success overall.

Linus Pauling, the American Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and author, claimed that ‘the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas’.  Oscar Wilde went further saying: ‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.’

4. Get to the nitty-gritty

Don’t tackle the easy questions first – tackle the hard ones.  Then you will have a much clearer sense of the true viability of your project.  And if that means failure, at least you will fail fast.  It can be tempting to skirt around the edges of difficult issues and convince yourself that they can be resolved further into the process.  If these issues prove to be fundamental, you will simply have wasted time, money and emotional energy.

5. Test and test again

Wait until you believe everything is perfect before launching is a significant risk.  Whether it’s your business, a new product or a new service, create a minimal viable product and test, test and test again. Let your customers tell you what’s good about it and what needs to be improved. As much as you think you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, there is always an element of subjectivity. Getting feedback from customers in focus groups and surveys is a fantastic way to reduce the risk.

Contact us to arrange a free no obligation consultation and discuss how Delphinium can help you to build innovation into your business.

Did you find this article interesting? Sign up for our newsletter to receive articles in your inbox, along with details of upcoming programs and events.

Gemma Rolstone

Gemma Rolstone

Helping good managers to become great leaders