7 Tools That Drive Organizational Innovation
Innovation transforms companies.
And it does it quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
That’s why hundreds of books talk about it.
Properly implemented, innovation:
- Boosts efficiency, productivity, quality, and competitiveness
- Captures value through solutions that meet new needs, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs in unique ways
- Increases job satisfaction employee motivation, and worker creativity
- Empowers employees to improve work processes
And this is just the start. Never mind what it does for market share, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
But you can’t just talk about innovation and expect it to happen.
You need to drive it. And that means using the right tools and techniques. An effective toolset is critical to driving innovation no matter what your organization’s culture.
If you want to drive innovation at your company, the 8 tools described below can help.
Developed by advertising executive Alex Osborn, brainstorming is among the most effective tools around for driving innovation. It’s also among the most mis-understood.
Brainstorming done right isn’t just throwing ideas out there. It’s a formalized process that generates solutions much more than the sum of their parts.
Another popular but mis-understood tool, mind mapping goes beyond just capturing a linear flow of words. When done right, mind mapping captures data, challenges ideas, promotes creative solutions, and defines actions steps. And it can do it in words and pictures.
This tool is the premise that underpins many creative thinking techniques. Basically, it requires you to take a stimulus and ask: “When I look at this what ideas do I get for solving the problem?” Answering this tool forces you to combine two previously unconnected things.
Rapid prototyping drives innovation by quelling the fear companies have that developing a new product or service cost huge sums. Developing simple prototypes can serve as vehicles for continuous learning.
Rapid prototyping helps companies move incrementally towards a finished product or service and decreases risk while creating energy. Rapid prototyping often saves millions in new product development.
This research tool involves watching customers interact with a product or service in their environments to see what works best. It’s great for gaining customer input that can really help drive innovation. It’s also great for unearthing needs customers can’t articulate because of familiarity.
An affirmative judgment technique, this tool does three things. It praises what’s good about an idea, lists the limits of the idea in the form of a question, and applies creative thinking to overcome these limitations. It helps give an idea a fair hearing.
Phrasing problems as questions
This technique can frame challenges clearly. Sometimes when looking at problems, we get stuck because our brain looks for evidence that supports the assertion.
But re-phrasing the challenge as a question triggers our brains to start solving the problem. The sudden shift in perspective invites solutions automatically.
These seven tools comprise a small sampling of the dozens out there that can help you drive innovation at your company.
That’s a good thing. Innovation transforms companies. It can transform your company from being an also-ran in an industry to a dominant market leader that sets the pace.
But innovation does just happen. You have to drive it. Otherwise, it will stay a powerful but untapped resource—one today’s companies can afford to squander.
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