Top 3 Reasons Preventing Business Innovation

Deloitte Private has released a new report identifying 3 of reasons business innovation in Australia may be slower then in other economies. The Deloitte report indicates that innovation may be slower in Australia because of lack of corporate and government support, access to capital and a culture that is afraid of risk.

Deloitte partner Josh Tanchel, who coordinated the report named “Startups: Playing it Safe is the Biggest Risk” said that the panelists who took part in the report unanimously agreed about the potential and presence of innovation in Australia, but said Australia needed to get better at commercialization.

Pete Cooper, founder of SydStart, Australias largest tech start-up event; BlueChilli founder Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, the executive general manager at the Commonwealth Bank Kelly Bayer Rosmarin; Lisa Messenger, publisher of renegade COLLECTIVE and Southern Cross Venture Partners founder Bill Bartee, where the five leaders from Australia’s start-up community that took part in the panel.

Tanchel has been quoted saying “The attitude in the US is that failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey”. He said “Australia’s attitude to risk and failure is a major issue and Australia needs to catch up with this approach”.

Business innovation is limited because of the Australian culture, when you have failed you are perceived to have a black mark against your name. It tends to hold Australian entrepreneurs back because they are less likely to go for global ideas and settle on targeting a smaller niche. This is holding business innovation in Australia back because our entrepreneurs don’t want to fail.

This issue affects the entire business landscape in Australia and has a direct influence on the economy. Tanchel says corporate and governments need to step up to the issue and support business innovation in Australia.

Business Innovation in Australia doesn’t have to be all about taking risk, the government could step in and support investment in structured, de-risking programs like incubators and business hubs.

Tanchel’s report also indicates the importance for business innovation in Australia to support more women founders.

Simon Maselli, is a world-recognised business consultant for Metamorph specialising in business innovation [http://metabiz.com.au]. Simon has 20+ years of experience on international projects and business, developing profitable businesses and advising in the areas of Innovation, Entrepreneurial Leadership and Corporate Sustainability. He is known for his inspirational communication style and his repertoire of innovative, practical, and highly effective solutions to the challenges that technology-orientated companies face in today’s business landscape.

Innovative Ideas For Your Small Business

Innovation plays an important role in the growth of a small business. Innovative ideas come naturally but most small business owners have a tough time coming up with innovative changes that will have a positive impact to their business. In this article about innovation for small businesses, I am going to elaborate on 3 ways to get innovative ideas for your small business. With the tips below, I really hope that you can now bring your business to the next level with the power of innovation.

Without further delays, let us look at what I have for you in the list.

Follow Industries with Rapid Change

Although one cannot be totally sure that the most rapid-changing industry is the most innovative industry, I can be almost certain that due to the fast pace, players in such industries push their minds to the max. This is of course to ensure the sustainability of their business as well as the ability to stay in front of the competition. Thus, it is always good to keep an eye on these industries because they come up with new and crazy ideas everyday.

For me, industries that moves faster than others will be the technology industry. Also, you should follow news that are related to web startups. These new startups often have a unique idea that solves problems creatively. Dig deep, try to apply their model to your current business model and you should be able to generate fresh ideas on how to innovate your business.

Organize Internal Brainstorming Sessions

Most entrepreneurs will see this as a time consuming activity but internal brainstorming sessions can help to generate ideas internally that could help improve a business. Apart from that, you are actually encouraging your employees and people who are involved in your day-to-day business operations to contribute. Often times, these individuals can offer practical ideas because of their hands-on involvement with the business.

To get the idea juices flowing, you need to be receptive to contributions. Do not label an idea as stupid and reward someone who offered an idea worth thinking. You must also take internally-generated ideas carefully and assess their viability closely. The last thing you want is to have the individual passing on the idea to one of your competitors.

Attend Trade Conferences

Most small business owners tend to link face-to-face networking with trade conferences but there are a lot more things to learn and gain from a conference. Visit participating booths and look at that products or services that they offer. Other than providing you with the ideas to be innovative, you might end up using these products or services to improve your business, which is another way to innovate your business for the sake of effectiveness and efficiency.

Networking with people that are either related or unrelated to your industry can broaden your thinking when brainstorming for new ideas. Get yourself out there and start talking to people. Like the first tip above, I would also recommend you to attend conferences that are not directly related to your industry.

Small Business Innovation

I’ve met many business leaders and entrepreneurs that do not understand how to leverage innovation in small businesses. These individuals often believe that business innovation is for large companies that employ scientists and have a large research and development department. However, many small businesses can enjoy significant benefits from a well-designed innovation strategy.

In some cases, small businesses can do a better job at identifying and implementing innovations than a larger company with multiple layers of approval, especially for “innovative” ideas. Smaller companies can often act quickly to take advantage of creative ideas and get those ideas into the market by incorporating them into the company’s product or service. This quick action gives the smaller company a competitive edge when they are “first to market” with a new product or a new feature. I’ve seen countless examples of a small company acting quickly to implement a product innovation while bigger companies try to “catch up” with the smaller company. Even when the bigger companies do catch up, the smaller company has established a strong position by being identified as an innovator.

Although a company is small, they can have a following of “raving fans”. These fans of the business provide valuable word-of-mouth advertising as well as “free” marketing through discussions on social media web sites. Building a following of loyal customers also provides a source of ideas for new products and new features – directly from the customers that will buy those new products or services. Ask your customers what features they would like to see in your products, and ask about new products or services that would be of interest to them.

When working with leaders of small businesses, I show them examples of other small businesses that have leveraged innovation to increase revenue, reduce expenses and create a competitive edge in their market. These examples may be from other companies in the same market or companies in different markets. Once the business leaders understand the potential benefits of innovation, the next step is to educate everyone in the company about the innovation process. An innovation disclosure program encourages all employees to submit creative ideas. By celebrating and rewarding innovative ideas, these small businesses can generate a flood of creative ideas to grow the business.

If you’re a small business leader or entrepreneur, don’t think that innovation is limited to large companies. You can benefit from leveraging innovation just as much (or more) than a large corporation. I have seen it happen hundreds of times.

Business Innovation Solutions

Problems, Problems, Problems – Wouldn’t life be grand if we never had any problems. Everything would work perfectly, everyone would always get along and be happy, everything would be wonderful for everyone everywhere, and things would only get better as we live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, in the real world there is no avoiding the grim realities of the dark side. Viewed from a business perspective – take the number of problems of each person, multiply by the number of employees, multiply the result by every single aspect of doing business, and the final result is what keeps every business owner chewing their fingernails down to the bone.

The most commonly accepted method of solving problems is simply to remove the cause. But this method is not always as simple as it would seem. Determining the true cause of a problem can be a very complicated affair, and even if you get this right – removing the cause can just as easily create a whole new set of problems.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a business could institute policies and procedures were problems would solve themselves and the business would reap tremendous benefits in the process?

How Problems Can Solve Themselves

It’s all about turning disadvantages into advantages, which is accomplished by finding innovative ways of viewing problems from a new point of view. A simple shift in perception is all it takes to reveal a whole new range of possibilities as seen from a new frame of reference.

The Value of Business Innovation

Innovation is a buzz word bandied about the business community for quite a while now. In fact, the concept of innovation has blossomed over the years to become an entire industry unto itself.

What is business innovation? The more traditional view would characterize business innovation in terms of creating new marketable inventions. Business innovation is also commonly associated with the research and development activities involved in designing new products and services, and finding innovative ways of bringing them to market.

As the marketplace becomes ever more saturated, innovation takes on a vital role in distinguishing your products from the competition and leveraging every resource available to glean the crucial competitive advantage. The modern view recognizes the strategic value in applying business innovation in EVERY phase of a company’s infrastructure encompassing the entire scope of company business.

Establishing a Culture of Business Innovation in the Workplace

Business innovation cannot thrive within a pyramid structure were it starts at the top and spreads through an organization with diminishing intensity, reaching to near zero at the base. A more effective strategy would be to invert the flow so that business innovation starts at the base and continuously accelerates as it picks up momentum on the way to the top.

Establishing a corporate culture of innovation throughout the workplace begins with fostering proper attitude of management. Innovation is all about recognizing value in the attribute of flexibility, and welcoming the challenge of adapting to circumstances in a constant state of change.

Abolishing the Status Quo

This type of freewheeling thinking can be difficult for those accustomed to the emotional comfort and security of simply maintaining the status quo. Innovation is generally applied incrementally in small “safe” baby steps, and only to streamline established procedures rather than risking potential fallout from instituting major change. Major change usually happens only out of necessity as the old proven procedures become ineffective and obsolete.

The Hallmark of Creative Genius

Given proper training, everyone has the potential of developing the type of refined mental flexibility that is the hallmark of creative genius. Unfortunately, this kind of specialized training is not included in the standard curriculum of formal education. Education cultivates a very rigid style of thinking. As a result, the natural childlike flexibility we are all born with deteriorates out of neglect. Adults endowed with creative genius are those that have nurtured their mental flexibility by their own volition in spite of the destructive aspects of education.

Companies would be well advised to seek out these rare individuals for key management positions, not only for their own creative input but more importantly for their ability to recognize the value of innovative ideas contributed by others. These are the people best equipped to lead the effort of developing effective strategies to deploy new ideas successfully.

Even though our creativity has been suppressed, it is not completely lost. A corporate culture endorsing perpetual innovation thrives on the realization that everyone has their eureka moments of inspiration from time to time.

Removing the Impediments to Innovation

Frontline workers see a company from their own unique perspective, and rightly so since they are intimately involved every working hour of every day. They often see problems management do not, and see how certain changes could benefit the company. Many are reluctant to come forward for fear of inciting negative repercussions. Frontline staff are sensitive to the risks provoking the ire of those with power over their position in the company, not to mention their entire career.

People in management positions often harbor the notion that they are the ones that do the “thinking”, and that frontline workers are paid to work – not to think, have ideas, or god forbid – to question the validity of existing policies or procedures. Managers often view this kind of input as a challenge to their competence and authority which could threaten their own position. Corporate cultures with a rigid hierarchy create a working environment were everyone develops their own private self-serving agenda which are often out of sync with the company’s best interests. A rigid hierarchy tends to stifle innovation leaving substantial opportunities lost by the wayside.

A critical factor in cultivating a culture of business innovation is removing intimidating fear factors endemic to the more common authoritarian culture so that staff can genuinely feel free to contribute ideas. Indeed contributing new ideas should be encouraged and staff should be rewarded for ideas that are adopted and prove beneficial to the company.

A company can realize tremendous benefits by deliberately allowing everyone in the organization the freedom to devote a small percentage of their work week exclusively to generating innovation. Furthermore they should be provided with quality tools and training to maximize their potential for success.

It Starts at the Top

Of course even the most revolutionary business innovations are completely worthless without principal management’s willingness to institute change. It is the vision and fortitude of high caliber management that determines a company’s overriding philosophy. There comes a time when this philosophy itself must be challenged for a company to evolve with a changing marketplace.

Success in deploying a culture of innovation depends entirely on cultivating the proper attitude of EVERYONE in the organization, there can be no exceptions. It is our rigid preconceived notions about how we think things should be that prevents innovation from working its magic.

Plant the Seeds and Reap a Bountiful Harvest

One of the precious few immutable facts of life is that everything changes. We prosper by realizing that every adversity contains the seed of new opportunity. The current economic crisis is just another example of change that challenges our ability to innovate, adapt, and exploit the fresh opportunities presented by change. As previously stated – It’s all about turning disadvantage to advantage, and all that’s required is a shift in perception to a new point of view.

In order to determine how to shift our perception we must be willing to continuously re-examine and re-evaluate the truth of our existing perceptions. Innovation is the means to move beyond our existing perceptions to explore new territories ripe with opportunity. A corporate culture of innovation is the means to utilize in full measure the most valuable resource of any organization – its people. There is nothing more powerful than open hearts and open minds working together in synergistic unity for a common purpose.

Every business that plants the seeds of innovation throughout the entire organization, provides all the nutrients needed to sustain new growth, and removes any obstacles that impede new growth, will surely thrive and reap a bountiful harvest.