Innovation For Resilient Businesses

September 13th, 2019

Innovation is crucial when building a resilient businessHanging lightbulbs signify innovation

The word innovation conjures up images of disruptive developments such as online streaming services or companies like AirBnB, Uber and the like. Fortunately, innovation doesn’t have to happen on a grand scale to make a positive impact in your business. In fact a 1% change can make a startling impact on your business.

Think 1% extra sales, 1% less complaints, 1% margin improvement; 1+1+1 = lots and lots! The 1% Principle helped British Cycling go from zero to hero in 2012. If you like the concept then you will find The Ultimate Guide to Marginal Gains and the 1% Principle a worthwhile read.

Driving innovation in any business begins with creating and encouraging an innovative and forward-thinking culture to allow your employees to bring new and interesting ideas to the table, and put them into effect. Your employees need to feel free to contribute. Added to this they must feel their contribution is acknowledged, appreciated and taken into consideration.

If there are barriers between management and employees then they need removing if innovation processes are going to work. This makes sure that there is regular two-way communication. Three-way communication is even better, as you capture input from across the business not just up and down.

Creating a team of innovation champions can help. Instead of putting innovation on the back burner until an opportunity presents itself (which it might not), task the right people in your business with driving innovation in a proactive manner. Let innovation become an integral part of your companies DNA. If your innovation champions have a particularly heavy day-to-day workload they will struggle to innovate. A reallocation of resource may be needed to give them time to devote to driving innovation.

When things go well, everyone should celebrate success. However, your innovation champions shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. This is how products and/ or services are continually improved. Regular project checks points are a useful tool when developing and testing new offerings. Managers need to help employees to feel comfortable, making mistakes or following blind alleys as long as it’s within a controlled environment. Sharing challenges, problems and issues are the best way to make improvements.

There is no monopoly on a good idea and sometimes it’s the smallest change that yields the biggest positive impact. So good ideas should be recognised but equally, ones that don’t get off the ground should be applauded as something to learn from for the future. Any idea is a good idea at the start don’t be too quick to reject too many early on.

To successfully drive innovation you must focus on what you do and what products or services you sell to your customers. Customer feedback can be used to drive innovation. Your customers are generally happy to tell you what it is they want from your firm. Perhaps they want flexibility or they really value quick turnaround times. Spend time gathering feedback from your customers and share this with your innovation champions.

You never want to give your customers a reason to go elsewhere. Make this the central focus of your innovation strategy and task your innovation champions with finding new and better ways to keep your customers coming back again and again. Repeat purchasers are the life blood of any successful company.

Remember you don’t need always need a complicated solution. If you haven’t heard the soap box story this is great read about innovative problem solving!

Perhaps the solution to the problem lies in doing simple things a little bit better or perhaps you can utilise technology to make your product / service delivery more efficient. Focus on your customers, listen to their feedback and let that feedback drive your innovation strategy and the activity of your innovation champions.



Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme