3 smart shortcuts to innovate your business

It’s no secret. Great innovators are thieves. They are getting ideas from everywhere. And so should you. Looking at other businesses is a clever way to learn from the best, and a shortcut to find innovative ideas.

1) Adopt values from other businesses
Values are one of the most important elements of creative leadership. If you find and formulate what is important for your people (what makes them tick?) and your company, it will be much easier to make (strategic) decisions.

Strong values help to make tough choices during the innovation process. If you know what your team considers important, you know where to innovate. Besides, genuine values motivate people to go the extra mile, and attract customers to buy from you. They are crucial to your company if you want to be successful and build a trusted brand.

‘Outside’ values can also be important to enrich your existing business. By adopting values (and their powerful anchored emotions) you can realise added value for your customers.

For example, luxury hotels are (in general) known for their hospitality. One of the services they offer to make their customers feel welcome, is ‘valet parking’. Driving your car up to the hotel entrance and handing your keys over to the ‘valet’, makes you feel like a real rock star. A wonderful example of putting the customer at the centre. Some hospitals have copied this ‘customer centric’ service to make sure that patients no longer need to worry about finding a suitable parking spot. This way patients are far more relaxed when they enter the hospital. It turns out that patients who didn’t have to stress about finding a parking spot, listen better to the doctors advice and recover faster.

2) Learn from related companies
The “industry” you are working in contains a lot of other companies that you can learn lessons from. Sometimes the ideas or solutions that you are looking for have already been developed by people in a nearby market.

The police can pick up new ideas from the army, a bakery can learn from the customer service of a butcher shop, and a packaging delivery company can study a successful pizza delivery service to find out how to be more efficient.

By looking closely at organisations that offer similar (yet slightly different) services, or by observing businesses which have related processes, you can discover powerful insights. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find ideas that you can utilise to innovate your own business.

3 ) Look for solutions outside your industry
Almost all problems have already been solved in similar situations in the past.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Biomimicry; using nature as a source of inspiration to discover smart and sustainable solutions. Another approach is to just adopt solutions from other industries.

The electrical toothbrush for example was inspired by the way car-washes operate. And did you know that Henry Ford’s assembly line was inspired by abattoirs and their transportation system with hooks carrying pigs?

Think about your own challenge for a moment. What companies might already have dealt with this type of issue before?

Every innovator is standing on the shoulders of giants. Be smart and acknowledge this. Investigate solutions from outside your industry. Just “Google” for a couple of days. You’d be surprised how often you can find elegant solutions for your challenge, that have already proven to be effective for another organisation.


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