To stay relevant these days, your company must innovate or die. For many leaders, scarier words have never been spoken. But it might take the pressure off to realize the I-word doesn’t necessarily mean what you think. An “innovation” doesn’t have to be a hot new product worthy of Steve Jobs or a Eureka! moment that transforms your company. “Setting your sights on achieving a steady stream of tiny incremental innovations can be an incredibly powerful approach,”says Patrick Stroh.
“It’s easy to be intimidated if you believe you must constantly come up with big, market-disrupting inventions,” says Stroh, author of Advancing Innovation: Galvanizing, Enabling & Measuring for Innovation Value! (Institute of Management Accountants, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-9967293-07, www.imanet.org/ivs). “This mindset can paralyze you or, conversely, send you down a costly wrong path.”
1. Document and improve your employee onboarding process. In large companies, new employees can get lost. Small or midsize businesses are easier to navigate, but there can be a lot of undocumented “tribal knowledge” that’s hard for employees to access and understand. Document a solid onboarding process that doesn’t just focus on providing “basics” like systems and facilities access but on arranging “meet-n-greets” with leaders and department heads. This will get the employee engaged quickly and drive value.
2. Increase your On-Time Delivery (OTD) metric by 1 percent. This sounds small, but can actually be huge! It necessitates some analysis on determining your OTD rate and finding out rationale for why the misses occurred. Then, employees can begin to dissect how they could head off those issues in the future. In doing this, they will likely find much more than 1 percent worth of improvements—but asking for only 1 percent makes it a palatable request.
3. If your OTD efforts succeed, do the same thing again—this time focused on quality. How can we increase our customer acceptance rate and/or decrease quality defects? Ask and ye shall receive.
4. Implement Net Promoter Score (NPS) with your customers. For example, you might ask a customer during an engagement, “On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would recommend [your product/brand] to a friend or colleague?” By asking this one simple question, you can put a focus on what your NPS rate is, discuss how to improve it, and benchmark against other companies. You can’t improve what you don’t measure—and NPS starts with one simple question.
5. Conduct one small business challenge in your organization. Take an existing business problem—either one you are experiencing within the business or one that you know your customers are experiencing—and solicit ideas on how to improve. This may start out to be a simple, small task, but you may find that your employees are very engaged and natural problem solvers with multiple responses. If this exercise is successful, make it a regular innovation channel and solicit, evaluate, and implement more solutions to today’s business issues.
About the Book:
Advancing Innovation: Galvanizing, Enabling & Measuring for Innovation Value! (Institute of Management Accountants, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-9967293-07, www.imanet.org/ivs) is a must-read how-to guide for fostering innovation in your organization. The book explains the significance and undeniable need for a yin and yang relationship referred to as “innovation governance.” Patrick Stroh outlines practical execution steps, downloadable forms, innovation insights, and introduces Innovation Value Score® (IVS), a proprietary measurement system to calculate, compare, and improve innovation value creation—which is now a must-have for organizational survival. The book is available at www.imanet.org/ivs.
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