Value; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. When looking at your business, what do you value? Is it profit? Is it customer satisfaction? Value can come in lots of different forms, and each will be unique to a specific business.
Some would argue the only real way to create value is through innovation. And that might not necessarily come through delivering new products to market or pivoting into a new market.
Innovation is not a standalone development linked to one department, such as R&D, it involves a whole ecosystem, often spreading further than your business alone.
That means value can be achieved in lots of different ways, and can fundamentally change the way a company operates both internally and externally.
Below are a few different ways innovation can help you create value within your business.
As a SME, how do you truly innovate and disrupt the world around you? In the age of the Internet, cloud, smartphone and microchips, communication is global as is innovation. Tesla proved this in 2015 by opening up its patent portfolio and sharing it with the world.
While this could be seen as a damaging move for a relatively small company, in car manufacturing terms, Tesla decided the potential progress far outweighed the company’s potential damage. Tesla wanted to encourage others to innovate, to build on what it had already done to foster innovation and future value.
This unprecedented move shook the business world, but helped create value for so many, in so many ways. Tesla also gained value on a host of different fronts, from new collaborations, increased use of charging points and press coverage.
Not every innovation works out, and risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But the two go hand in hand. And risk-taking creates value. While many fear failure, you need to be willing to step out into the abyss and try something new.
Many companies release a successful product or service that does well for a period of time, but that isn’t value. By relying on one product or service, your company will become complacent and end up stuck when a rival company does something cheaper or better.
Richard Branson is the master of risk taking. If it’s not Virgin Start Up, which provides loans to entrepreneurs taking their own risks in starting a new enterprise, it’s Virgin Records.
At a time when the record market was near impenetrable, Branson launched Virgin Records, a huge risk at the time. To make it work, he took further risks in signing little known or controversial acts, something not done at the time. But it paid off.
Eventually, he sold Virgin Records to keep other companies afloat – a calculated risk – and has since launched Virgin Galactic which aims to commercialise space travel. Again, another huge risk.
The ability to constantly innovate or adapt means your company will never be complacent.
To innovate, you need an empowered team. A great leader will drive empowerment among their staff, not fear. A clear objective that applies across departments will ensure everyone works to achieve one solution.
While you need to encourage empowerment, it isn’t something that can just be expected. You have to create a culture where staff are inspired and motivated to solve problems using their own drive and initiative, thus enabling you to better react to customer feedback or spot market needs.
Google has done this incredibly well by allowing spaces and channels for empowerment. Google Café encourages cross-department interaction, staff can directly email the company’s leaders, Google Moderator is an innovation management tool that allows anyone to ask a question, TGIF is Google’s weekly all-hands meeting where anything can be discussed. The list goes on!
These solutions encourage empowerment and mean that employees don’t feel shy about getting involved if they think they can help solve a problem, thus creating value.
A lot of value in a company comes from time, whether that be staff time, design time, production time etc. But so much time is wasted within a company. How do you make the most of not only your time, but your employees time?
To same time, look at your decision making and how that impacts on the company. One good way of addressing this is considering the four Rs – Relevance, Responsiveness, Resilience and Resourcefulness.
- Relevance – Why is this an important issue?
- Responsiveness – What are the options? What impact will they have?
- Resilience – What could be some of the disruptions?
- Resourcefulness – What are the best use of your resources?
If you can answer those questions quickly and effectively, they will save you time in the long term, providing you with value.
Innovation can help drive value in your business in a variety of different way. You have to decide what would be best for your company and how to implement that strategy, but open innovation, agile decision making, empowerment and risk taking can really help to drive your business to sustained and long-term growth.
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