UK IDEA is all about creating new ideas that create better businesses.
We use four strategic processes: IDEA Generation, Decision Making, Education and Analysis. These are the four elements in our company logo. Some are needed for short term gains, others for long term benefits. If any are missed out, the IDEA process will suffer. Used correctly, here are some examples of how a company can benefit:
Marketing teams will generate new product and promotion ideas.
R&D teams will reduce project times, and provoke new discoveries.
Manufacturing will improve efficiency, profitability, and cut cost.
Sales teams will create new ways of increasing sales.
Is your company innovative?...
You may have a personal opinion that your company is innovative. Perhaps your company has won an innovation award. However, the truth for most companies is that they have no real way of judging how good they are.
If you were asked, “is your company financially sound” then the chances are it would be easy to quote turnover, cash flow, profit, and financial ratios. You would be able to list all these figures, and perhaps quote industry competitor comparisons. Can you do something similar for innovation?
It’s possible to have meaningful figures about innovation, just as you do with finance. Simple measures can track your success. For example list all the products that you sell today. What percentage of those were launched in the last one, two, and five years? Now do the same exercise for your competitors. Next try a pie chart showing sales turnover, or profitability, against product age. Now you have the start of some meaningful information.
UK IDEA recommend an innovation audit for companies who’s business relies on being innovative? If you want a professional audit, we can do it for you. After an audit, we recommend steps that will help you improve.
How can you increase your innovation skills today, without an audit?
Innovation needs ideas. Everyone, and every business, can improve their own creativity, and their ability to generate ideas. Start with some proven techniques listed in the book review section of this site.
The long term key to idea creation is knowledge and the associations of normally unrelated ideas. What surprises most people is that knowledge helps creativity. The misconception is that a new idea somehow happens from nothing. People say this is why children are very creative. It turns out that children’s creativity is almost always a reflection of what is happening elsewhere in their lives. Having a limited knowledge-base forces children to make associations between normally unrelated subjects. When adults harness this ability to make unusual associations, then they have an enormous benefit over children, because greater knowledge leads to more possible associations.
The number of ideas that can be created by making unusual associations increases by having a wide and diverse knowledge.
How can a team be made more innovative, creative, and productive?
Try one of our events, and make a start with some of the following ideas today.
A team can be made more innovative in three ways...
Firstly when the team is formed, it’s members should be considered for diversity of skills and interests. Think of the analogy of a quiz team. If there are experts in a number of subjects, they will be able to tackle almost any question.
Secondly a technique for brainstorming or idea creation should be used (see book review section).
Thirdly the working environment needs to be right. Management are responsible for the environment, and this must encourage and reward creative activities. A good management team will have processes for encouraging new ideas, and turning them into products.
Do you measure ROI (return on investment) for innovation expenditure?
If innovation is important in your business, then you must be able to measure it’s cost, and it’s effectiveness. A company accountant could help set up a system. In addition there are tax incentives in the UK for research and development.
A simple way of measuring ROI is to start new projects that will have a measurable financial return. This is typical of a cost reduction, or a six-sigma project.
Every company is different and will have different amounts of time to spend on creativity. The key to success in each case is creativity on demand. Individuals must become instantly creative, to a competitive standard, even if they spend most of the time on other activities. For example a research and development team may spend 5 per cent of their working week on solving problems that need new ideas. In advertising the creative process is more dominant at the beginning of a project (though it doesn’t always feel that way). In both cases, when new ideas are needed, those creating them have to do so at the highest level.
Surprisingly it is possible to learn idea generating methods in a few hours, and these methods can save many hours each time they are used. Like any basic skill, idea creation methods will be used again and again, repaying the initial investment many times.
Businesses throughout the world are battling to be innovative. The European Commission declared 2009 as the 'European Year of Creativity and Innovation' but this had little impact on businesses.
The UK government defines innovation as “the successful exploitation of ideas”. If we take this as a useful starting point, the logical argument is that in order for businesses to exploit ideas they must first produce some ideas. The source of these ideas will invariably be from within the business: namely from the people within the business. So for a business to be good at innovation the people in the business need to be good at producing ideas. Only then can the business act on these ideas. These are two separate skills: Idea Skills and Business Skills. Both are essential to any company, and both should be part of any plan to increase business creativity and innovation within a company or country.
Most companies already have business skills. To improve, these companies must take on the responsibility for building an environment that maximises idea generation. This means that Senior Management must build an innovation culture that stretches throughout the organisation. This is essential because ideas can be created anywhere in the organisation.
Are there software packages that create new ideas?
Software for innovation falls into two main categories; the first is for tracking and progressing ideas and projects. In many ways standard office software can be used for these needs. The second is for helping to generate ideas. This type of idea generating software is in it’s infancy, though progressing rapidly. This type of software tool will become an important business tactic in the near future.