We’ve spoken about what innovation is and why you need it. The next part is introducing innovation into your business which allows you to capitalise on market opportunities and respond better to competitive threats. Two ways to introduce innovation into your organisation are by incorporating design thinking and creating an innovative company culture.

What is design thinking and how can you incorporate it into your organisation?

Design thinking is a problem-solving method intended to create innovative solutions. It focuses on combining three essential elements in a product, service, process or strategy design solution:

1) Desirability from a human (e.g. customer) perspective.

2) Feasibility from a technological viewpoint.

3) Economic viability.

Design thinking helps you to generate solutions that future customers will want instead of designing based on historical data or instinct.

There are four phases of the design thinking process to facilitate innovation:

1) Identifying what people really need (i.e. the problem to be solved). This encourages people-centred innovations to be developed, which are generally less risky to launch.

2) Generating breakthrough solutions. It’s important to push past obvious solutions and encourage innovative ideas.

3) Building rough prototypes. This gives you the opportunity to learn how to make the solutions even better. Experimentation and refinement is an important part of the design thinking process.

4) Communicate the preferred solution to inspire others to embrace it.

The design thinking approach is used by international design companies like IDEO (www.ideo.com) who design products, services, environments and experiences across a range of industries. It’s an approach that can potentially be used by any organisation looking to generate innovative solutions.

What is an innovative company culture and how can you develop it?

Creating an innovative company culture involves creating an environment where:

  • New technologies are embraced.
  • New ideas are encouraged.
  • Barriers to creativity are removed.

According to Dr. Waguih Ishak, Chief Technologist for Corning in Silicon Valley, you can create an innovation culture by:

  • Giving creative people broad discretion to work within the parameters of the organisation’s objectives, key focus areas, core capabilities and stakeholder commitments. This gives them accountability for delivering practical products, services or processes. The broad discretion also builds trust.
  • Allowing innovators to bypass organisational barriers and structural hierarchies that hinder creativity.
  • Valuing unconventional thinking.
  • Encouraging innovators to have ownership of worthwhile projects, but don’t overload them with too many. If you do, they’ll likely lose focus, or you’ll slow their progress.
  • Encouraging external relationships. These contacts can help organisational knowledge to be both acquired and distributed. The benefits can flow both ways. It can also result in external innovators being brought into an organisational team to collaborate on special projects.
  • Hiring great people. Great people are the foundation of an innovation culture. But be aware that the demand for successful innovators has never been greater than in the contemporary business environment. They’re in high demand because rapid technological change in the digital age is disrupting markets and entire industries.

How you can learn more about innovating successfully

Netflix is an innovative company that disrupted the home movie rental industry, causing the demise of international organisations like Blockbuster. Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph is speaking at two events hosted by StartCon in September 2018, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. At these events you can hear first-hand about innovation from one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask Marc questions or even participate in an exclusive small-group meeting with him.

Although best known for founding Netflix, Marc has founded more than half a dozen successful start-ups over the past four decades, with his ability to recognise and exploit opportunities for innovation being pivotal to his success. He has also mentored hundreds of early-stage entrepreneurs and invested in many successful tech ventures.