Streamlining your business

5 tips for creating a business innovation program

Innovation isn’t just a trendy buzzword. It can help set your business apart from your competitors, guard against sudden changes in the market and drive ongoing business success.


However, innovation doesn’t just occur overnight. It's the result of providing the right environment for ideas to be heard and flourish. Specialised internal business innovation programs can be an effective accelerator to make this happen. Learn how you can create one for your business with these five tips.

1. Identify where innovation belongs in your business

Like all good things in business, boosting innovation begins with a plan. Your first step should be identifying where exactly innovation belongs in your business, so ask yourself what you would like to achieve. For example, are you looking to improve operational processes or your current product or service offering?

Whatever your agenda is, that's the area of your business your innovation program should address. Then, look at the internal avenues connected to it and work out which ones require the most improvement to realise your vision.

2. Assess your customers' needs

Don't forget that, regardless of which area of your business you're trying to improve, your customers' needs should still be at the centre of your operation. Effective innovation often aims to find a new way to solve their problems. A market analysis can help you determine where their needs might not be entirely met and where you could add more value. This can reveal new opportunities that form the foundation of your innovation strategy.

It’s also important to remember it’s not just about understanding your customers’ needs in the present. The best innovation programs anticipate how your customers’ needs will evolve going forward and offer solutions before they even realise they have a problem.

3. Choose the right innovation model

 There are many different types of innovation programs. You could choose to:

  • assign a designated internal innovation team that drives innovation throughout the business
  • invite employees from different departments to contribute ideas in a series of innovation workshops
  • bring in external innovation consultants to flush out your business's innovation potential
  • partner with another business, for example a startup that has developed an innovation of interest to you.

4. Define your innovation framework

Next, it’s time to put an innovation framework in place. It's like a blueprint your innovation team can follow and helps you measure the progress and ultimate success of the program.

Your innovation framework should comprise your overarching goal, the customer needs you aim to meet, and a series of milestones or deliverables you expect to come out of the process. This can help you strategically work towards a positive return on your investment.

5. Monitor and measure your progress

Unstructured, unmonitored innovation efforts can easily spiral out of control, missing any real business outcomes. While you should encourage creative, out-of-the-box thinking, an innovation program can help you formalise and direct this process to achieve more measurable results.

So make sure to monitor your innovation team’s output and measure it against the milestones and deliverables you’ve set as part of your framework. This way, you can ensure your program stays on track.

Innovation can deliver valuable outcomes that help drive the success of your business. Implementing a specialised innovation program that's aligned to your objectives can help keep business innovation on track to deliver tangible results.

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