Though in theory many brands and businesses claim to want innovation at any cost, in reality, the bottom line is always the bottom line. If you’re not careful, these innovation challenges will cost you dearly.
Lack of top-down support = fewer ideas coming in
If your business unit management team is behind your innovation efforts, why does it matter if the C-suite cares? It matters a great deal because innovation isn’t predictable, and therefore shouldn’t be limited to a select few. Your budget is wasted if you try to innovate in a silo.
It takes the time and talent of everyone in the organization—and even beyond—to come up with ideas worth pursuing. If the C-suite isn’t part of creating that culture of innovation, no one else will care. The burden of coming up with new ideas will rest on the shoulders of an overtaxed few, while the possibly amazing ideas of others in the company will never be heard.
Sourcing and managing ideas
Encouraging a culture of innovation is key, of course. “One of the hallmarks of corporate success is employee engagement. Since an engaged employee is one who’s proud and enthusiastic about her work, she’s more likely to act in ways to advance a company’s interests and bolster its reputation. Anything that increases that engagement will have a significant and measurable impact on a company’s bottom line.”
And once that culture of innovation in place, you MUST focus on keeping your ideas and efforts organized. Which ideas have the most potential? How do you decide? Can employees vote on their favorites? What about customers and clients? Where do pitching and voting happen? Sorting out idea management specifics is crucial. Otherwise, your million-dollar idea could be lost in the shuffle. And all resources spent in the name of finding it will have been in vain.
Lack of vision and follow-through
With great ideas comes great responsibility. If your project proceeds to the prototype phase and then stalls, you’re in trouble. There’s no point in starting if you’re not going to finish. Worse though, are projects that shouldn’t have been started in the first place.
You need to be organized enough to recognize the ideas that are ahead of their time – or past their prime. Prototypes cost money, after all. If an idea doesn’t work in practice, or you’re pushing to create a product consumers aren’t interested in, you’ll fail. And failure is part of the process, of course – but you want to be smart about how you fail.
Enlist social media monitoring tools to find out if your audience is excited about your innovations, or if you’re spinning your wheels on something that will never sell. You can’t assume they want what you’re offering just because you think it’s cool. There has to be a genuine demand.
At the same time, you need to keep track of ideas that may not work now—due to technology that doesn’t exist yet—but could work down the road. Keep tabs on audience sentiment for those ideas over time as well so when the perfect moment arrives, you’re ready.
Disruption by competitors
Here again, social listening, which can be tied into a top-notch idea management tool, is your best friend. If you’re using social media to source new ideas, you can bet your competitors are too —so do a little digging and see what they’re saying online. See what consumers are saying as well, and use those insights to avoid being caught off guard by another company beating you to the punch.
Not demonstrating value
The biggest threat to any innovation program is in the way it threatens the company bottom line. The only way to demonstrate the value of innovation is by meticulously tracking every aspect from start to finish and offering up solid data to support continuing.
Whether you’re attempting to change the world with the next iPhone, or simply changing the way your company does business internally, innovation is crucial to your brand or business growth.
But the ephemeral nature of ideation and innovation is scary to those holding the purse strings. The best way to avoid unexpected costs—and allay fears—is to run your innovation program as meticulously as you run every other aspect of your business.
With state-of-the-art software and a clear plan for how to proceed, innovation is just another business process. But it’s one that can affect your bottom line for the better if you do it right.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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