Innovation without technology - really?

Whenever we hear the term ‘innovation’ we immediately think of something related to technology. And yes it is true that lots of innovation we see or hear about involves technology of some form or another. While this is true it is not exclusively so.

Whenever we hear the term ‘innovation’ we immediately think of something related to technology. And yes it is true that lots of innovation we see or hear about involves technology of some form or another. While this is true it is not exclusively so.

In this post we explore how to take advantage of opportunities to innovate within a business without all the issues that surround using new technology. Not to say technology is bad, but rather do not let the fear of technology involvement get in the way of innovation in your business.

To understand how this is possible we first need to define what we mean by innovation. For this purpose innovation is about finding a way to do something in your business in a different way to how it has traditionally been done. Some of the best innovations apply a concept from another industry in a way that has not been done before in your industry or business. Indeed an innovation for your business may well be something one of your competitors have done. This may be a way to greet customers, or a change to an internal process, etc. 

So lets get started. We recommend a simple brainstorming workshop with all your team. Here are a few tips to make your event a success.

  • choose a facilitator who can guide the team effort as they move from item to item
  • we strongly recommend including all the most junior members, not only will they be pleased to be included (even if a bit intimidated) but it is common for them to ask the question or raise an issue that generates the idea for some new initiative
  • start with a short positioning presentation by a senior team member that describes the features of the practice today and perhaps some thoughts about the future
  • then focus the team on barriers or issues that seem to be holding the business back
    • volume is key at this stage
    • encourage all to change their focus from say clients to providers to resources, etc
    • then run around the room collecting suggestions and noting them for all to see
  • then focus the team on ideas or suggestions to improve business performance
    • this follows the same process as above
  • finally, ask each member to scan all items and choose the 4 or 5 they would attack first.

Now, we look for ways to address the priority items. While some of the solutions my involve a new bit of technology it is common that progress can be made simply with a change to procedures or processes. In some cases a small business can execute these changes in a few days, review how they worked after a suitable trial period, before making them an integral part of the ‘business as usual’. The key is to get started, involving all the team will help to maintain momentum, then all can celebrate when the success occurs. It is worth noting that in the unlikely event that a new initiative does not achieve the desired result, they can typically be undone as fast as they were executed with very modest cost to the business.

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