How we made our business more innovative

In the digital world, innovation is incredibly important.

In the past, we’ve prided ourselves on staying at the forefront of the latest developments.

We do so by creating our annual trends report, which brings together the top digital minds from across the world. They give their thoughts on an array of potential developments in digital, many of which come to fruition.

This allows us to react quickly to changing trends.

But it doesn’t make us innovative.

Because it is those suggesting the new trends who are the innovators and we are simply reacting to them.

One thing we have come to realise is that to offer a world-class service you must innovate and act upon your innovation.

So we set ourselves a challenge.

How could we become innovators?

In this article, I explore the steps we’ve implemented in our office to help catalyse more innovation.

Read it and be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!   

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   The Thought Process

At first we thought about measuring our innovative practices.

For example, each time we brought a new product or service to clients that had been developed in-house would count as an innovation.

Also, when we optimised a current offering, we would count that as an innovation.

This is all well and good, but this approach had two problems.

First of all we realised we were simply measuring an outcome.

We would also only be measuring how naturally innovative we. Such measures wouldn’t help us become more innovative.

So how were we arriving at these innovations and how could we stimulate more of them?   

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   Stimulating Innovation

From there we realised that all of our innovation came about from learning and training.

We were taking the innovative concepts of others from training courses, books and blogs and developing them to suit our client’s¬†individual needs.

Through this process we were often improving on the original ideas by bringing together two separate concepts from different sources.

So we made Learning and Training one of every employees main KPIs to measure. We wanted them to put in a certain amount of time each month into learning and training in the hope it would stimulate innovation.

But it’s not fair to expect people to add this to their workload.

So we instituted the idea that everyone got Friday afternoons on the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month to spend on learning and training.

It hasn’t got in the way of our work.

Instead, someone struggling with their workload might spend the time learning to streamline their processes or working out how to be more productive and efficient.

This has resulted in automating certain aspects of the job and even hiring a new employee to pick up the slack.

It led to Ryan and I utilising a Best Self Journal, which we both now swear by as a way to exponentially increase your productivity.

And it’s not just us who benefit.

Our clients are now experiencing a far better service.   

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   Change Your Culture To Allow Innovation

The problem with innovation, especially in a British culture, is the fact you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

What I mean to say is, you will fail more than you succeed whilst trialling new ideas.

And us Brits don’t like failure.

We don’t like to talk about it either.

So we realised we needed a cultural change.

It wasn’t enough to simply push people into training courses and expect them to suddenly become innovative, we had to actively create an environment where they would be happy to push the boundaries and fail in order to innovate.

This catalysed a change in our cultural values.

We instituted a blame-free culture and one in which failures should be shared.

It’s not that we were all blaming each other or chastising each other for every failure.

It’s simply that we needed employees to know that they could share failures without fear of reprisals.

The fact is that you learn from failures, and if you share those failures nobody else will make the same mistake you did.

So keep it blame-free and make your team share their failures.   

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   An Open-Forum

You could, like us, share your biggest failures and how you will counteract them in your weekly team meetings.

You could also use learning and training as a main KPI.

You could give your team the time to meet their KPIs.

This is all great but we wanted to go one step further.

The weekly meetings were being used to share developments and failures but these were fragmented, there wasn’t enough time in an hour to understand the mechanics behind the progress.

So we decided to create a quarterly innovation day.

Where everyone could present on their failures and propose new innovations. It allows us to share our progress and learn from each other.

In future, we might open this out to guests and expert guest speakers.   

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   The Results

The result of these changes?

An example would be our LinkedIn service.

We are able to generate our clients 2-10 leads a week, depending on their requirements through LinkedIn alone.

The service came about as a result of learning and training, we took one growth hacker’s concept and we improved upon each aspect in turn, until we were generating more leads at a lower work-rate than he was.

This is now one of our most popular services, which wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t instituted innovative measures.   

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   Early Stages

We’re a small company and it’s very early to claim we’re highly innovative.

But by focusing on innovation we’re have seen incredibly positive results for the company, our employees and clients.

We would love to hear from you. How do you innovate? Do you have any suggestions to improve on our practices?

Or maybe you have a question! Either way, fire away and we’ll get back to you ASAP!   

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