The Innovation Process: 3 Steps to Improving Your Facility

Commercial Fitness

The Innovation Process: 3 Steps to Improving Your Facility

The greatest leaders and entrepreneurs of our time all possessed a key ability that has distinguished them from others in their respective fields: the ability to innovate.

Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, and Bill Gates are a few of those entrepreneurs who have significantly contributed to our society through their innovation. They made innovation immensely important, valuable and, from a business perspective, profitable.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2015 IHRSA Convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at ihrsastore.com.

Innovation

Innovation and Why It's Relevant to Your Business

Innovation is essentially the translation of an idea into goods or services that will create value. In business, innovation can play a key part in dealing with increased competition across various price points and by making what you have to offer more appealing to your target market.

The Innovation Process

This process consists of three steps: insight, identifying the problem and creating a solution. Industry insight is essential in facilitating innovation and business change, and you should be constantly networking and questioning the status quo.

1. Insight

Networking

Networking is crucial. Different perspectives foster open-mindedness and increase innovation in producing profitable concepts.

Include outsiders such as friends of friends. When limited to friend-only networks, ideas tend to become redundant with shared interests.

Network expansion creates the opportunity for exposure to different perspectives and backgrounds.

High-functioning company boards, including the boards of behemoths like Google and Under Armour, include a significant diversity with members from different industries. Generating unique, fresh and innovative ideas is directly beneficial, so spend time meeting new people. Consider holding regular brainstorming lunches to meet and engage with different people.

Questioning

Questioning the status quo allows you to take a different industry view of varying perspectives and business angles, which leads to unique ideas and insights. Ask questions that both impose and eliminate constraints for a broader and enhanced understanding of your target market. “The smartest people I know ask the best questions,” says Chris Bingham of University of North Carolina.

2. Identifying Problems

Observation is important to better identify problems in the market or in a business. Try to observe without engaging. Observe the servers as well as those being served to obtain a more holistic understanding of problems. Innovation becomes easier as we understand the problems we face.

Clay Christensen’s jobs-to-be-done concept has proven effective in supporting businesses, products, innovation, and creating services people want to purchase. This concept relies on the idea that people hire a service or purchase goods to help them do a job. If you are able to identify what that product or that job is, you can be innovative with your product or service.

The jobs-to-be-done point of view occurs when you walk in client’s shoes or accompany your client through their day, always asking the question: “why did the potential customer do it that way?” Consider a case study of a fast-food restaurant chain working to increase their milkshake sales. A focus group identified ways to improve the product. The results were documented and adapted, and yet the milkshake sales did not improve.

The company then recruited a researcher to determine what "job" customers expected the milkshake to do. After observing and interviewing the customers who purchased milkshakes, they found that 40 percent of the milkshakes were purchased in the morning by commuters. The buyers were staving off hunger and finding something to do during their long commutes.

This insight innovated the company’s milkshake production with a product that was more viscous and included pieces of fruit, which resulted in improved milkshake sales. The marketing focus target demographic demonstrates the importance of customer motive. An understanding of a client’s motive can impact product and service innovation, ultimately resulting in enhanced profit.

3. Producing a Solution

Organizations often leap too quickly to the first solution in addressing an observable problem rather than consider a broader range of solutions. A workable solution should analyze a broad range of feedback and use that data to reiterate the product or service.

This process helps refine your business products and services making them more innovative and ultimately more valuable. The one-and-done model may not yield favorable results. Creating a solution, measuring its success, and then fully refining the product or service produces better products for your customers. If you learn from the feedback you receive and produce products or services in line with that knowledge, you will set yourself up for success.

References:

1. Bingham. Leading Innovation and Change. Published June 9, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX95yda1Uc4&index=1&list=PLeldQ1IqzHR6l1vFFmXZ8ufU AI7SveBgf.

2. Nobel, C. (2011). ‘Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing.’ Published February 14, 2011. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6496.html.

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