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5 questions to ask about innovation

Before trying to press ahead with an innovation program, it is often beneficial for business leaders to take a step back to see if they can answer some prudent questions.

In this blog we will consider 5 of the most important questions to ask in an organisation.

1. When trying to come up with something new, do we have a culture that tolerates failure?

A culture of innovation is built on trying something new. There’s a high chance that new things will fail and it’s a cultural shift to allow for failure. The key is to recognise something isn’t working, have the courage to call it out, and pull the pin. This is known as ‘failing fast’ – and the benefit is quickly abandoning ideas without fear of trying again.

2. What new products or services are we bringing to market?

There is innovation for fun – trying new things with no real end goal in sight – and then there is innovation that takes customers’ pain-points into account, and delivers a new and better product or service to address them. When considering innovation, doing so through the lens of solving the customer problem is both empowering and focusing.

Your organisation likely has great ideas for how to do things better – recognising and acting on them can galvanise the team to action.

3. Do we have a strategy to take the lead and innovate?

In a disruptive world, many organisations react by ‘battening down the hatches’ and hoping disruption will fail, or affect others and not them. As they say, “hope is not a strategy” … your company needs a strategy set from the leadership down, to take advantage of disruptive opportunity and lead from the front.

4. How can all our staff collaborate on innovative ideas?

Innovation doesn’t “just happen” it is led by creative people. The good news is most people in your organisation are creative – they just need a voice for sharing ideas and collaborating with each other. Think about what processes, tools and acceptance your team needs to be innovative, set them in motion and the ideas will come.

Acceptance is key – all the technology in the world won’t make people want to come up with new ideas.

5. Do our IT platforms, systems and people support a rapid innovation cycle?

Once we have great ideas or new products we want to work on, does our technology maturity allow for true innovation at speed? Many organisations have recently found that their internal IT systems and functions hold back their desire to innovate and deliver new products and services to customers. How do yours stack up? Review your systems and processes to determine how long it takes to innovate and develop a new product – there might be a lot of room for improvement.

Innovation, like any other strategic function, doesn’t “just happen” it thrives on the right culture and processes to make it happen. And asking yourself a few tough questions up front is a good way to improve on it.

Anthony Woodward is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Accelera