Continuous improvement and innovation

Culture, Innovation, Leadership, Performance, Uncategorized | 0 comments | by Simon Ricketts

The world may not be getting smaller, but it is certainly getting more competitive. All of the client firms that we are currently working with are experiencing the need to compete more globally, and in this age of freely available information it is hard to see how you sustain any form of advantage for any period of time.

Customers are increasingly looking for new forms of value, or ways in which they can access value in more convenient, easier or cheaper ways. The Internet is fuelling this search, and to succeed in the future firms are going to have to think very differently about their business model and offering.

Innovation therefore becomes critically important for future survival and prosperity–but we do tend to think of innovation at the strategic level, i.e. new products and services, new markets and the like. However, there is huge untapped improvement and innovation potential within all of the people that you employ.

Therefore, building a culture of continuous improvement and innovation can provide an enormous source of value, as organisations clearly need to innovate at both the operational and strategic levels.

So, in the real world how is this done?

Sir Ken Robinson in his RSA video (Click here to watch) outlines the challenge – when we were small children, we could envisage hundreds of potential uses for a paper clip, but as we were ‘educated’ our ability to think laterally and creatively diminished sharply. This underlines the challenge of reclaiming that innate innovative ability.

The reality is remarkably simple, although difficult to do (like so many things in life…). As organisational leaders we need to:

  • Highlight the need for innovation, why it is critical for us and your desire for people to engage in this way with their work
  • Continuously ask for and positively reinforce the behaviours of challenging the norm, thinking differently and bringing ideas forward
  • Experiment with different management behaviours and leadership styles, and monitor the positive (or negative) impacts they create
  • Clearly demonstrate behaviours focused on continuous improvement and innovation

If we do not change our behaviours, how can we expect anything different from those around us?

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