Workshop One Assignment, Activity 1.2: Techniques for Stimulating Innovation Stimulating innovation within the organization calls for the use of various strategies and techniques that are a part of management judgments and decisions. Innovation is essential to business survival. Every organization has to be unique at something, at least for a little while in order to stay ahead of the game. According to Robbins, Decenzo, and Coulter (2011), innovation means the process of taking idea and turning it into a useful product, service, or method of operation. Thus, the innovative organization is characterized by its ability to channel creativity into useful outcomes. Innovation involves taking an inspiration and turning it into a useful product, service, or way of doing things (Robbins, Decenzo, and Coulter, 2011).
Muriiti (2012) stated that the use of the following strategies is helpful as a means of stimulating innovation within the organization: The engagement of all the organization’s departments and partners in product development – from the outset, management should make an effort to incorporate the input of everyone who is linked to the organization when it comes to new product innovation and development. This means that the various departments should be allowed to contribute ideas and suggestions. The same applies to external partners including the suppliers, distributor and customers. Only then can a well-rounded product or service be realized. Promote pilots and prototypes – rather than filing an increasing volume of new product or service proposals, management will stimulate innovation better by encouraging the submission of actual pilots and prototypes. These can then be tested for suitability in trial sites which may not even be in close proximity with the business.
The culture of piloting should be fostered. Encourage existent product enhancement – another way of stimulating innovation is really making the best of what is already successful in the market, from other organizations, by adding uniqueness through enhancement and adaptation. This strategy calls for the use of more market intelligence on what both competitors have to offer with an aim of going one better than them. Finally, make optimal use of word-of-mouth – once you have a successful product or service it is apt to get respected persons to use it, and their fine perceptions of the same are sure to trigger purchases from the wider market. The onslaught of competitors in such cases is imminent but what this will actually achieve will be a marked decrease in the product/service lifecycle. Management should take these cues to herald the need for sustained innovation efforts (Muriiti, 2012).
These strategies mentioned above will certainly be help in stimulating innovation within the organization but they must be supported by a couple of management techniques like giving support to the faithful contributors – the manager should pay a proactive role in spurring innovation by nurturing, protecting and facilitating those in the organization who are passionate about new ideas. With time, it is most likely that the entire organization will be motivated to participate in innovative endeavors. Showing support for constant innovation – the manager should be at the fore when it comes to stimulating innovation. Continually finding ways to symbolize innovativeness daily in the work environment will undoubtedly rub the staffs in the right way, should be recognized to encourage further future contributions. Support for past failures – one of the surest ways of nurturing and stimulating innovation is by supporting failed efforts and learning from the past mistakes, all with an aim of achieving constructive progress.
This calls for entrepreneurial management that is keen to remove any obstacles blocking the quest for sustained innovation. The last one is, innovation should be measured – quantifiable innovation targets should be set and what has been achieved must be measured. Winning in business today demands innovation. Such is the stark reality facing today’s managers. In the dynamic, chaotic world of e-business and global competition, organization like Millard group, where the writer is currently working, developed some strategies that can be used in stimulating innovation and creativity within the company. The managers are very open and receptive to new ideas. They believed that being open to new ideas implies that every idea can be discussed, challenged and enhanced, regardless of its origin.
New ideas can come from customers, suppliers, partners or many other sources. The idea is the hero, not the person. The company continuously experiment. The management knows that progress requires a regular flow of new ideas that are then tested and experimented. Just as soloists need to deal with work flow and cash flow, you also need to have ideas flow. Everybody in the organization is encouraged to write down every idea that comes to their mind, no matter how trivial or unlikely it seems at the time. They can later sift through these ideas to find the ones that are worth developing further. Millard Group encouraged their employees to have fun. Fun is a part of the journey of realizing largely untapped creative potential. This involves a broader definition of fun, it’s not just the fun you have at a party or down at the beach but also the fun of trying things, taking risks, pushing yourself and achieving goals.
Also, Millard Group believes that innovation should still be set against the backdrop of producing results including meeting deadlines and budgets, staying fit and healthy and leading a balanced life. The company is not afraid to operate on the edge of chaos. Employees work in an environment that allows them to tolerate tensions and paradoxes that surface in the organization. They sometimes fail as part of a focus on result. They can have fun while being serious about their work, and they can make room for innovation and creativity, at the same time as running an efficient and productive business. Identifying best practices is a common technique for stimulating business improvement. However, at Millard Group, there are a few downsides to this process. Sometimes certain practices do not translate within the organization, and sometimes practices are not implemented well.
Too often, they generalize that failure to justify dismissing an entire initiative such as innovation, quality or so on. An alternative to focusing on best practices is to look at the underlying principles of the initiative. For instance, if you learned that most innovative organizations were doing cross-functional teams, you might decide to implement that practice in your organization. However, assume that for some reason, such as autocratic, chain-of-command organizational structure, this practice fails. This failure might discourage further innovation efforts. If you were focused on principles, however, and knew that collaboration that would work within your culture.
Understanding the underlying principles of innovation can help Millard Group develops conscious competence which could prevent making changes to their systems or culture that might adversely affect their ability to innovate. Therefore, the managers may have to guide the actual change process as changes in strategy, technology, products, structure, or people are being implemented. In this role, the managers answer questions, make suggestions, get needed resources, facilitate conflict, and do whatever else is necessary to get the innovation implemented. The management must take the initiative by sharing their vision and reinforcing how these changes fit the overall team mission as it relates to the staff. Changes that require training and development need to be scoped, budgeted, and planned, before the announcement of changes.
Muriiti, S. (2012). Managing employees. Retrieved from http://www.gaebler.com/how-to-stimulate-innovation-within-the-organization Robbins, S. P., Decenzo, D. A., & Coulter, M. (2011). Fundamentals of management: Essential concepts and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc. Tribe, K. (2007). Six ways to stimulate innovation and creativity. Retrieved from http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/innovation
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