In today’s crowded marketplace, innovation is a key factor for any self-respecting company that wants to constantly evolve and achieve new things. But the reality is that there are plenty of obstacles along the way, including boredom, restlessness and an understandable amount of fluctuation in the enthusiasm department.
So how should a business go about being innovative, even after years of providing the same service? There are five basic principles that should never be overlooked when seeking to innovate:
1. Challenge your assumptions
Making something work often involves repetition, there is no doubt about that. But repetition, if left unchecked, can quickly lead to stagnation down the line. That’s why it’s essential to keep challenging yourself from time to time by flipping your previously held assumptions. Simply identify the things that you do without thinking and see if there is any way to do them differently. Sometimes it won’t work, but other times you might end up forging new pathways to even greater success.
2. Reward and encourage intelligent risk taking
Playing it safe just doesn’t cut it anymore. Staying relevant in a culture focused on innovation means coloring outside the lines every once in a while at least. At Google, for example, employees are given carte blanche when it comes to trying out risky new ideas. Not all projects pan out, but the ones that do usually compensate for the misses. The freedom to fail can be one of the most liberating principles a company can adopt, and will often lead to major innovations over time.
3. Constantly re-evaluate the value of what you provide
Every successful company starts out by providing something that people need or want. But nothing lasts forever, and many “dinosaur” companies can be left behind by the changing times. Staying ahead can only be done if a business commits to the idea of periodic re-evaluations where honesty and straightforwardness are key. Don’t be afraid to make bold changes based on your findings, as it’s the only way to keep growing in a competitive market.
4. Enlist the help of like-minded individuals
Despite what some people may say, virtually nothing can be achieved in the absence of others. Businesses and brands are built by the people who believe in them, with success being the ultimate end result of being genuinely liked by consumers. So it makes sense to actively encourage them to join forces with you. Whether that means creating brand advocates like ride service juggernaut Uber did or simply making a concerted effort to involve fans on social media, having passionate people in your corner can make all the difference in the world.
5. Don’t forget the things that work
After all is said and done, however, the fact remains that doing what you’ve done so far has lead you down the path of success. So make sure you don’t stray away from your core values, the things that people first associate your business with. Innovation stems from strength, and strength can only come from knowing that you already have a solid base to work with.
Staying on the path of evolution is a sure way to keep afloat no matter how hard things get, so it pays to keep your business ahead of the curve every step of the way.
Author: Eva MacFarland is a business analyst, currently working as a consultant for AIB. She takes particular interest in business, market research, branding and career development.