Why a business must be ready to innovate

By: STANLEY NDUNG’U

Companies are constantly vying for talent, but hiring talented people is only the first step in cultivating a creative and innovative environment.

Building a workplace where there is a constant exchange of ideas involves finding the right formula for your company and culture.

Incorporating innovation in your business can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace.

You cannot force creativity and/or innovation, but the right setting (entrepreneurial culture, if you like) will put your team in the right frame of mind to find imaginative solutions. That companies must be creative to develop innovation is obvious.

Creativity is a continuous process and is increasingly important, particularly for businesses operating in markets with multiple opportunities to different goods and services.

Creativity skills include the ability to manage diverse matrices of information, suspend judgment as complexity increases, recall accurately, and recognise patterns of opportunities. Indeed, creativity is the basis for innovation, which can be a catalyst for the growth and success of your business.

Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

That is why innovative first movers destroy incumbents’ market power and enjoy transient monopoly advantages and abnormal profits, emanating from rivals’ lagged responses. Competition within the banking industry provides excellent example here in Kenya; mutatis mutandis of mobile network operators.

Also, innovation is linked to successful performance for firms in both the industrial and service sectors as well as to entire economies, a fact that is well illustrated by the Top 100 Survey.

So, what are the key steps towards your business innovation? Firstly, conduct an analysis of the market environment, your customers’ wants and needs and competitors, and be open to new ideas and adaptive to change.

Secondly, develop a strategic, responsive plan, which includes innovation as a key business process across the entire business. Thirdly, provide leadership in innovation by training and empowering employees to think innovatively from the top down.

Inspirational leadership and motivation is what drives innovation in business. The fourth point is where you connect with customers and employees to generate ideas for improving processes, products, and services both internally and externally.