Innovation Management Tips
When I was a student, I remember working for a year in industry during my tertiary education. At one point I received a lesson in Innovation Management.
I was working with a gentleman called Eric Stonebank, a VP with Cherverton & Laidler in the printing and packaging industry in the UK. Eric had asked me to go into the plant and research some information to allow them to make changes in some processes that would increase efficiency.
I remember chatting to a few of the guys on the presses and asking about some pretty direct questions about how they were doing certain jobs. Between my age and foolhardy line of questioning, something was lost in translation.
Then Eric decided to give me a lesson in Innovation Management. In a fraction of the time, he was getting all the answers he needed and more in a casual conversation.
What was I missing? Eric had learned to speak their language and could phrase a question very differently to me with my lack of experience. If he failed to get the answer he was looking for he would ask again slightly differently.
What can we learn in our organisations to help progress our business and production practices?
Let me give you my five tips to improve innovation management that I have learned through business and adventure:
- Follow Eric’s advice. Ask questions differently. Phrase the question to let the employee know they are a partner in the process.
- Listen intently to their answer. Engage with them in what they believe is an idea that can help you and answer your question.
- Don’t be afraid to copy from a peer/competitor. The rest of your company may be in great shape and just needs a tune up – someone else may have just what you need. Innovation can be a little like music. In a scale there are only twelve notes which limits our ability to create a unique phrase (string of notes) because somebody has probably put them together in that order before. Innovation has more to do with a “basket of good ideas” used together in the right recipe than it does a singular good idea.
- Take innovation seriously – make time for innovation. The tech industry is notorious for beer and pizza sessions where staff take time out to innovate and create a new idea/theme/game.
- Communicate better. Learn to transmit and receive information in a way that benefits a culture of innovation. Innovation can come from employees, managers, clients, suppliers and competitors. Have a plan to talk more openly to those sources. One big question I have always asked my staff to ask in our businesses is “What is the one thing I could have done that would have made your experience even better”? Try it…