The world as we know it is based off of what people before us were able to invent, re-invent, and continue to re-invent in order to make our lives easier. Think about all the tasks you do throughout the day. You make your coffee with a coffee machine (that someone invented), you drive your car to work (an invention), you take the elevator up to the 4th floor (another invention), and you do your job, something that has also evolved over the years.
Innovation isn’t just important in the world we live in, but also within the walls of our small-business or across the globe with our international companies. Innovation is something that’s extremely hard to teach, but there are professors and other business professionals that attempt to teach how to foster an environment for innovation and which are the best ways to approach a problem that needs a solution.
Some of the most common ways to integrate innovation into the workplace is to utilize training days where tools like junk yard games come into play. Having co-workers work together to solve word problems or even real life issues is a great way to mock the real thing. This doesn’t teach them exactly how to come up with life-changing innovations, but it does teach them what to look for, how to brainstorm, and how working together is better than working alone.
Innovation is described by one Forbes article as “the introduction of something new or different. The act of innovating leads to the introduction of new ideas, devices, or methods. In short, creativity plus work results in innovation. Therefore, being innovative means you harness your creative ability.” In the business world, innovation usually makes a process more efficient, less expensive, or more user friendly. While it’s easy to come up with unrealistic ideas like flying cars to avoid traffic, innovation has to go in some sort of pecking order where each new product builds off the product before it rather than skipping a few centuries in innovativeness.
The Forbes articles writes, “aside from products, innovation can also pertain to new services, business models, processes and functions. Companies such as Google and Starbucks have implemented game-changing innovations in small ways that add to the big picture.” Innovation can be anything from a newly designed marketing technique to a new product line.
Two books that depict innovation as an art are “The art of innovation” and “Creative Confidence” by Tom Kelley. Kelley is a partner of the company IDEO, a global design and innovation company. IDEO is credited with designing the first manufacturable mouse for Apple and has since then been known to help large and distinguished companies update their products, methods, services, and even the names of new products. The designers use collaboration and team brainstorming as the forefront of their operation. Kelley talks about how you can’t wait for an idea to come to you, you have to actively look for it. He talks extensively on how we need to find a problem and then consider solutions for that problem. Without a problem, there’s no room for change or innovation.
If nothing ever changed, we wouldn’t be able to grow as people, a society, or even a business. Innovation doesn’t have to be some crazy idea that makes ground breaking change, but something as simple as tweaking a process in your supply chain that saves you money down the road. Teamwork is the root of innovation and innovation is the root of a successful business. Therefore if you want your company to prosper you should encourage working together, having people of different backgrounds share ideas, have opinions from all angles, and get people with different specialties working on the same things. You never know what the product will be when you have great minds coming together to solve a problem, but it’s time to find out.