5 tips to innovate in times of crisis by Borja Arrizabalaga

Innovating is a way to differentiate yourself from the competition,

How to apply it without affecting productivity?


When we talk about innovation, many believe that it is only a useful word in the vocabulary of large companies, or technological ventures leveraged by venture capitals.

However, I always clarify that to generate innovation, it is not necessary to develop a fabulous product or a technology of the latest generation.

Many times creativity can lead us to innovate only in some part of an existing process or product and generate a new source of income.

Challenging the status quo

Innovation is a process that focuses on achieving a new or totally modified object.

You can innovate with a management system, a process, a product, a service or a technology. Innovating is a way to highlight companies even more than competitors.

Said Steve Jobs, creator of the iPhone and iPad: “Innovation is what distinguishes the leader from his followers.”

Innovation is not easy because it challenges the status quo, staying as we are because we are well.

Betting on innovation can be risky, but not innovating can be an even greater risk: that competition leaves us obsolete.

More with the speed with which they move today the new companies.

The Uber North American venture can make the taxi license system obsolete; Bitcoin revolutionizes the dollar and the euro; And the drones are already leaving our mail on the balcony.

No matter if it is a startup, an SME or a large company, everyone should be able to innovate, or at least try!

Tips to start innovating

Train employees.
While some employees may be creative or innovative by nature, it is necessary to provide tools to everyone so that no one is left out of the “move,” and that there is a common application methodology.

Tools such as brainstorming and brainstorming, and methodologies such as triz, Lean or 5S help to think about current processes and products more critically and find new solutions that add value.

Provide the most precious resource, “time”:
I highly recommend companies look for a day of the week that is strategic.

In my company I call it Friday Biztorming, that is, the day of creating business ideas.

That specific day or time should be reserved for activities of innovation and idea generation: meetings with employees, meetings with new clients, special trainings or brainstorming sessions.

It seems an unproductive day, but on the contrary, it is a day of investment, of betting on the future.

The idea is to achieve that at some predetermined moment of the month people get out of their daily problems, and seek to think differently.

In many companies such as Toyota or Coca Cola implement 5S, a kaizen (continuous improvement) or operational excellence event, with the aim of focusing all people to innovate at the same time.

The days or times of stop and low season are ideal.

Start with small projects.
Many large companies now work with the intrapreneurship model, where employees create their own projects or develop their ideas for improving the same company, using their resources, such as Apple or Google for example.

They maintain the entrepreneurial spirit, dividing the work into small parts or projects. Each project must be managed autonomously, as a startup.

Eric Ries’s Lean Startup theory proposes to start with small experiments that allow small-scale innovation without having to invest too much at first.

For example, an employee of a restaurant can propose a totally new dish and try the success by offering it free to some customers.

Pilot tests often give a lot of information about the client that may be useful for that or other future projects.

Rely on the ability of the team.
Getting people to come up with ideas is not magic.

When we brainstorming events, 90% of employees often have ideas, but it turns out that they had never been told because of fear, or if they had already proposed it, they had not been taken into account.

Proposals should be heard and considered seriously, employees are the ones who know our clients the best.

Reward innovation.
The only way innovation can be carried out in a company is for leaders to create a culture that favors innovation, rewarding people who think, participate and risk.

This culture is created by setting the example, and reinforcing the expected behaviors.

Innovation can be rewarded with holiday days, bonuses, gift cards, lunches, or just a THANK YOU.

In the new  era of Generation Y or Millennials, employees can develop their entrepreneurial capacity without having to go elsewhere. This is because as companies grow they lose their taste for innovation and improvement, they tend to stabilize more and only to “Put out fires.

Why not keep a culture of innovation forever? Tell us how you innovate in your company.

5 tips to innovate in times of crisis by Borja Arrizabalaga

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