Misconceptions around innovation

This article was originally published by i-FM, here.

Innovation is plagued with misconceptions. That’s one reason it is the exception rather than the rule in facilities management. Zoe Stanton of Uscreates explains.

Here are some common misconceptions about innovation, and some pointers on what we think innovation is really all about.

“Innovation is about being dynamic, energetic and different”

That’s true. But it also needs to serve a purpose, add value and have inherent importance to an organisation, market or community. Newer does not necessarily mean better.

“We don’t have the time or money for innovation”

Innovation cycles can and should be low cost and rapid. Generate and test some ideas quickly and cheaply, see what works and what doesn’t work and then repeat.

“We should innovate as we need to cut costs fast”

Innovation can provide extremely valuable cost savings. For example, our recent innovation work with a local authority generated cost savings of £20,000.

However, cost savings are more than likely going to be felt in the long run as innovation requires time and resource investment up front. If you go in hoping to make immediate cost savings you may end up being disappointed.

“We are doing enough about innovation already”

You maybe innovating within your business, but the businesses which innovate beyond incremental improvements are the ones that will come out on top. Try and learn from Kodak and HMV. What will facilities management look like in five, 10 or 20 years? Are you leading the way, keeping up or being left behind?

“To learn about innovation we need to look at what companies like Apple and Google are doing”

These companies are innovation pioneers. But it is important to remember that they are inspirational and aspirational for millions of people around the globe. Be innovative about where you look for your inspiration rather than following the crowd. Here are some interesting examples.

  • A hospital took inspiration from Formula 1 pit stop systems and improved its patient handover from surgery to intensive care
  • Starbucks’ suspended coffee initiative comes from a tradition started in Naples
  • A new, more appealing stop smoking service for women was inspired by borrowing approaches from Ann Summers parties.

“Innovation is about getting a group of people in a room and brainstorming a lot of ideas”

Engaging people in creative idea generation is definitely part of the innovation process; but a very small part. Hundreds of great ideas are generated every single day – that’s the easy bit. The difficult part of innovation is successfully developing, implementing and scaling those ideas.

At Uscreates we facilitate a process that quickly and cheaply tests out ideas to understand how they might work before our clients invest time, money and resource in them.

We might:

  • Draw out a website or app on paper and get people to imagine interacting with it
  • Role play a new service to understand what the experience of using and delivering it will feel like
  • Trial a new system within one team for one day to understand its impact and likely teething problems which will need to be fixed before launch.

Get in touch

Have you heard any other misconceptions around innovation? What does innovation mean to you? Sharing knowledge and ideas is an important part of the process – zoe@uscreates.com.

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