Ten ways to innovate your company
There is a growing demand for clever ideas. These days, every organisation wants to do things better, smarter, faster, cheaper or more sustainable. Innovation seems to be the magic word. Yet, when it comes to it, most managers don’t know where to begin. In this article, I share ten innovation areas to get you started.
1. Your Product
Can you improve your core product? Can you add new features to it? Can you make it better? Lighter? Faster? Stronger? Smaller? Bigger? More appealing?
Is there another customer problem you can solve? Can you develop new products or services that fit one of your customer’s needs?
Innovating your product (portfolio) is a great way to deliver new value to your customers. However, be aware: new features, products and services are often easy to copy.
2. Branding & Communication
How do your customers perceive your company? Can you improve your brand’s image? What about a new corporate identity or pay-off?
How do you present your products? Can you change your business proposition? Can you positively change your communication, branding, marketing or advertising?
A strong brand is recognisable for customers and makes your products/services stand out from the rest. When your communication is truthful, your company will become more reliable as well.
3. Customer engagement
What are your client’s motivations? What are their desires? What do they want in life? What keeps them up at night? What are their nightmares? How can you impress your clients? What extras can you offer them that would positively surprise them?
Responding to your customer’s (inner) desires is what building a strong relationship is all about. Give your clients an amazing experience, and they will remember you.
4. Social innovation
Most managers associate innovation with technology. Although it’s true that R&D is an important driver for innovation, it’s not the sole factor. If you want to increase labour productivity, then you will need support among employees to successfully introduce new tools or processes. Besides, implementing technology without taking the human factor into account is doomed to fail.
Are you working efficiently? Can you improve your operations? Can you make your process (more) agile? Can you do it differently? Smarter? Faster? Cheaper? What steps do you take during the process? What steps take the most time? How can you reduce the amount of time you need for these steps? What would happen if you would remove steps?
Although ‘lean’ and ‘six sigma’ are widely used, there is still much that can be improved. In every organisation, you can find strong beliefs on how things should be done. Although assumptions help us to work efficiently, they also block us from opportunities. That’s why it can be a revelation to take a step back now and then, and examine your ‘modus operandi’. “Why do we do this?” can sometimes be a true eye opener.
6. Customer journey
What are your clients satisfied with? What extras can you offer them that would increase your product’s value? What bumps in the road do you see in your customer’s journey? How could you take these away?
Don’t be shy to also ask your clients what you can improve. A client’s comment can sometimes be a true epiphany.
Can you connect your product with another product to create new value? Can you create a brand extension? Can you create a new product or service that makes your initial product/service more valuable?
Building an ecosystem for your products is a smart way to bind customers to your organisation. It allows you to connect individual products/services, offers great usability for your customers and helps to protect you from your competitors.
In what ways do you offer your product/services to your clients? What are your sales and supply channels? What other channels could you use? In what other ways can you distribute or sell your products/services to your clients? How are you connected with your customers? How do your customers find you?
Can you facilitate other services? Can you offer a platform for other related companies? Can you collaborate with third parties to offer more or new value to your customers?
A strong network is valuable for your customers, your partners and your own organisation.
10. Business model
How do you make money? What other ways could you make money? What do you offer to your customers? Who are your customers? Is there another target audience that you could turn into customers? What new proposition could you offer them? Could you turn your waste into value?
Needless to say, changing your business model is one of the most powerful innovations. Changing the way you make money can give you a disruptive head start. If you want to examine your existing business model we advise you to use the Business Model Canvas. It’s a great tool to redesign your revenue model.
What innovation area suits your organisation best?