Thursday, 17 December 2015
Thursday, 19 November 2015
One of the characteristics of great organisations is the ability to develop a culture of innovation. This is a culture that puts a system in place to help the business always develop new-to-the-market products as well as improve on existing products seamlessly. It will be a herculean task bridging the gap between your business, the market and your customers if innovation is not a way of life in your company.
Innovation is like a switch, without turning on the right knob, it will not be enabled to work for your business. In Nigeria, many businesses are yet to enable the innovation culture; they still operate a laggard culture i.e. they are slow to innovate, they focus most of their abilities refurbishing or repairing past innovative successes and soon, they are driven out of the market without knowing it – the Blackberry Company is an example. They have perfectly developed a culture to renovate (fixing current problems) rather than developing a culture that will enable innovation (building and testing new solutions) in their businesses.
If your business is stuck already in the renovation culture, it’s time to stop fixing problems with old solutions. You need to move away from repairs, restoration, and reconstruction of ideas to novelty, advancement and originality of ideas by building a culture of innovation into your business. Here are a few steps you can take towards developing a culture of innovation in your business:
Decide what innovation really means to your business
Culture is a way of life, and what makes a culture tick is the shared language and understanding of phenomenon. Building a culture of innovation requires every member of your organisation to speak the ‘same language,’ and have a common understanding of what innovation means to the business. This common understanding of innovation in turn reflects on every task carried out in your company. Organisations define innovation differently, and this definition is affected by the availability of resources as well as the goals the businesses set out to achieve hence, you cannot define innovation in your business the way your competitor did. You will never get the same result.
Make learning a habit
The first law of innovation is learning and acquiring new knowledge. It is knowledge that drives innovation. Creating an innovation culture entails being a ‘learning company.’ Open up the information system within your organisation, work on improving the level of interaction among employees on one hand, and with the outside world on the other. There is nothing like a lone genius, great innovations came about as a result of multiple interactions amongst people. Like Tom Kelly, CEO of the design firm IDEO pointed out, “Y our only real path to innovation is through people. You can’t really do it alone.” Learning as much as possible from both within and outside your business puts you in a better position to always innovate.
Change your perception of risk
Nothing fuels innovation like a free atmosphere to exercise your mind. Many organisations are slow to innovate even with smart employees because there is no room for failure. Developing a culture of innovation in your company requires creating an atmosphere where people are not afraid to fail. While it is good to be cautious in taking certain business decisions, care needs to be taken to avoid shutting out ideas that may yield innovative products. According to NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, UK, “Make it routine and acceptable to talk about ideas that were tried but ‘failed’. Work from the mindset that the only ‘failure’ is the failure to learn, and that not sharing and learning from things that don’t go as planned is waste and lost productivity” When innovating, don’t think of success or failure of an attempt, rather talk about the lessons learned.
Finally, while moving from a culture of renovation to innovation is challenging, entrepreneurs must see to it that they nurture an environment that will introduce new ideas and new ways of thinking by modelling their business strategy around innovation, and developing a system that challenges the norm.
Thursday, 15 October 2015
Innovation in business is very important, but most important is developing a product/service consumers are willing to buy. Over the years, many products with innovative features have failed, not because they are not good, in fact, most times, they bring more to the market than existing products. Unfortunately, consumers end up avoiding them leading to over 70-90% of innovation failures and eventual withdrawal of such product from the market. Examples like Microsoft Windows Vista, Apple’s Newton PDA, the Concorde supersonic airplane etc reminds us that not everything innovative finds a market. Some of them actually came into the market when consumers were not ready for such innovation.
Entrepreneurs with new products or services want customers to adopt it and get maximum satisfaction from using them. However, entrepreneurs often face the challenge of convincing customers to move from an existing product where they derive satisfaction, to a new one which its utility is not certain.
Here are some reasons customers may resist your new offerings.
1. Your products bring too much change
Change is good, but customers don’t always appreciate it when a product is bringing too much change to their lifestyle. For instance, Coca Cola’s attempt to change the original taste of coke was met with resistance. When consumers feel very comfortable with an existing product, they can go to any length to resist any attempt to change it especially when such a change will affect other areas of their lives. This resistance comes as a result of consumers being satisfied with their current situation, and see no reason to change. Habits that have been developed while using a particular product are difficult to do away with. Any product that requires a change in behaviour will likely experience resistance.
2. Innovations with the wrong technology
Many businesses apply the wrong technology in their market. In Nigeria, when it comes to telecoms, GSM is the way to go. Over 90% of subscribers use it, and it is the preferred network in the world. For companies that came into Nigeria with CDMA technology - Starcomms, Multi-links etc, it wasn’t a favourable market for them. Technology has seasons and regions where they are most appreciated. E-retailers in Nigeria observed that insisting on shoppers buying and paying online alone may not give them the desired result; they decided to introduce ‘Pay-on-delivery.’ This act is building confidence in people to use the technology. The right technology must be one that fits into a people’s lifestyle, values and norms. Every technology introduced into a business must be compatible with the desires of the consumers.
3. Innovations that are too complex
Keep it simple. Innovation is all about simplifying life. Innovative products are those that are useful to consumers, and are easy to use. Years back, the long process of registering on a website puts off many people, but today, with your social media accounts, it looks seamless. Consumers are always reluctant to go for innovative products that are complex to use, complicated and confusing. If you can’t keep it simple, it’s not good enough.
Consumers’ resistance of a product doesn’t mean a failure, but it points out the need for entrepreneurs to pay more attention to the needs of the market. Bringing a technology that consumers are not familiar with, and the risk level cannot easily be ascertained will create an air of doubt in the consumers. If the resistance is allowed to prolong, it leads to rejection and eventual product failure.