The Covid-19 pandemic has affected businesses across the globe. Some have permanently closed down completely, while others are struggling to stay afloat. One of the things that has enabled most businesses to thrive during these challenging times is innovation. Many organizations are leveraging new ideas and methods in hopes of improving productivity and efficiency in the wake of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19.
Some businesses might have even spent significant sums of money on innovation to remain competitive. While this can be a great strategy for a future-oriented business, it can prove to be futile if you don’t maximize the value of your investment.
Below are my tips for maximizing the value you see from investments in innovation:
Hire a great management team.
Good performance in any organization starts at the top. When top management is competent, you can be sure their competency will trickle down to lower levels within your organization. Without skilled managers who can foster sustained performance at all levels, your innovation strategies won’t yield the desired results. No matter how much money you’ve invested in innovation, the buck stops with the leadership of an organization to transform ideas into game-changing solutions.
When looking to hire new members of your management team, ensure they’re disruptive. Candidates might not even need to be from your own industry; instead, you could look for leaders from more progressive industries ripe with innovation and fast changes. And during the interview process, ask not only about their qualifications but also about examples of disruption.
Hire great employees.
In addition to hiring great managers, you need to hire great employees. Innovation without competent employees would be a fruitless endeavor. It’s important to put together a team of action-oriented individuals and effective thinkers and put them in the right departments. Keep in mind that innovation touches on a range of departments in an organization, including strategy, product and service development, marketing, supply chain and many more. Therefore, you need competent people in every department to get maximum value from your investment in innovation.
Similar to my advice above, don’t base your recruitment on qualifications. Look for real-world examples of how candidates have displayed skills in a live environment. Once hired, you’ll need to keep them incentivized correctly. Create a culture of rewarding successes and even failures. Allow your team to innovate and experiment.
Bureaucracy slows down the execution of tasks in a business, and it can be a serious impediment to innovation. This is a problem that I’ve found commonly plagues big organizations. To maximize value from the money you spend on innovation, you must break bureaucracy and allow faster implementation of innovative ideas. To get started, consider creating an independent unit that has full autonomy.
In my experience, a higher level of bureaucracy can complicate the normal running of a business, hence reducing growth. During these unprecedented times of Covid-19, I believe bureaucracy will only reduce your profits and you won’t be able to maximize value from your investment in innovation.
Shelve old ways of doing things.
In a business, there will always be projects and processes that don’t bring in the desired results. Some businesses hold on to these processes for far too long, and this is what leads to losses and stagnation. Holding on to processes that no longer benefit the company also squanders your resources.
It makes sense to abandon projects and processes that don’t work to create room for progressive projects. Shelve old ways of doing things if they’re no longer profitable. Innovation goes hand in hand with progressive processes.
Maintain open communication.
Open communication among an organization’s leadership team and employees helps to streamline operations and foster efficiency. When employees have a sense of direction, it becomes easy for everyone to work toward a common goal. I’ve found that organizations are able to maximize value from innovation when their top leadership is committed to open communication. Create a culture of open channels, and encourage your team to voice their opinions.
Embrace a risk-taking culture.
In business, some strategies might not work no matter how much you try. It is a good idea to try something new once you realize a particular process isn’t working. Risk-taking allows you to step out of your comfort zone and pursue new ways of adding value to your innovations. Even if your product is doing well in the market, it’s never a good idea to become complacent and stop improving.
Overall, embracing innovation during this post-pandemic economy allows you to build better products and services, as well as gain a competitive edge. But the most important part is getting the maximum value from your investment.
About the Author: Sohil Goorha is the Founder of Stratitnow, and ex VP of GE. He has collaborated for two decades with Fortune 100 companies to drive tangible results. This article is also published on Forbes. You can read it here.