When Innovating, Think People, Process, Then Technology
Innovation is a term thrown around a lot in business, but what does it really mean? Everyone can wax on about innovation. But not everyone has thought deeply about what innovation looks like for their organization today – let alone tomorrow — and how they can maximize their chance of success in making innovation real via people, process, technology and information.
That’s why we’ve developed the Innovation Framework: A set of four questions anyone can ask themselves when thinking about innovating their business or organization. The first step is recognizing that all organizations need to innovate — even if they aren’t sure exactly what that means right now or don’t have an official mandate from senior leadership yet. In fact, most organizations already do some form of innovation every day…but usually only within silos or functional teams (HR) rather than across them (marketing). This post will walk through each phase of our framework so you can see how easy it is to take advantage of opportunities within your own organization today!
It’s not uncommon to hear people describe their business as one that “needs to innovate.” Several examples come to mind, including a large technology company whose leaders had been tasked with finding new ways to serve its customers. A CEO of a global construction business who wanted to move beyond building homes and offices. Or an executive in a processed food manufacturing company who was inspired to create a new product line, one that would engage consumers in a more meaningful way around nutrition and wellness of the planet.
These are just some examples where companies were trying to innovate for the sake of innovation—and at some point along the way, they lost sight of what they were doing because they didn’t know why they were doing it or how they could measure success once they got there.
In each case, these executives want something new. Something fresh. Something innovative.
Innovation is a process, not an event. Innovation is about the future, not the past. Innovation is about people and organizations, not products and services. Innovation is about thinking differently about what you do.
Anyone can talk about innovation — it’s easy when no one else is doing it! But when we dig below the surface and start asking questions about their innovation strategy, this is where you learn how far along an organization is in its innovation journey and the depth of thinking going into what the future might hold for them or for their customers.
Innovation is about finding new ways to engage customers, employees and partners. Asking questions about what innovation initiatives are underway is a good way to learn whether an organization has a clear strategy for innovating its people or processes — and then seeing how that strategy translates into technology decisions.
In an article for Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Kaldor, who was chief innovation officer at Method Products and co-founder of Ideo Labs (now known as Fjord), offers this thought: “Anyone can talk about innovation — it’s easy when no one else is doing it! But when we dig below the surface and start asking questions about their innovation strategy, this is where you learn how far along an organization is in its innovation journey and the depth of thinking going into what the future might hold for them or for their customers.”
Everyone can wax on about innovation. But not everyone has thought deeply about what innovation looks like for their organization today – let alone tomorrow — and how they can maximize their chance of success in making innovation real via people, process, technology and information.
Innovation is not just about new products. Innovation is not just about new technology. Innovation is not just about new information. And it’s definitely not just about new processes, which are often the first things to be tinkered with in an attempt to innovate that wayward enterprise that has been coasting along for years on momentum and inertia alone (or worse… inertia and bureaucracy).
Innovation must start with people—the talent you have on hand now and how they can be leveraged to propel your organization forward—and move outward through processes and technologies that support both individuals and teams across an organization, as well as interfaces between them so they can work effectively together toward a common goal or purpose.
Innovation is not just a buzzword. It’s an essential process for any organization that wants to stay relevant over time. In this article, we’ve explored some of the key elements of innovation and how they can help you succeed in your own organization – and we hope you’ll find some ideas here that will spark new possibilities in your mind! We know that everyone can talk about innovation, but it takes real thinking to make it happen through people, process and technology — with information at the heart of it all.