It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day business. It is often difficult to find time in your day to take a step back and look at the whole picture. That can lead to a loss of the creativity that helped you launch and grow a successful business in the first place. Worse, you start to lose sight of key market trends, evolving customer needs or opportunities for innovation.
Companies that create a culture of innovation are more efficient and more competitive. If you’re not thinking ahead, market advantages that you had just a few months ago can suddenly evaporate. But advancing new ideas when you are trying to keep your head above water with the needs of day-to-day business operations is no easy task. In fact, according to PwC’s Innovation Benchmark Report, “54% of innovating organizations have trouble bridging the gap between innovation strategy and the larger business strategy.”
This isn’t surprising with all the areas that a fast-growing company needs to focus on: everything from keeping a pulse on customers and market changes that affect your business to making sure the right people are in place to execute as the business grows and maintaining a great company culture along the way.
The big question is how do you successfully navigate these challenges without losing your edge? Figuring out the formula results in big ideas and opens the door to new business opportunities. We can learn in part from the latest Global Innovation Index just published by the World Economic Forum, which lists the world’s most innovative economies. Switzerland scored the top spot for the second consecutive year. The takeaway is that creating a culture of innovation — in a company or a country— can lead to great ideas regardless of your size. Here are some things you can do to help keep innovation alive as your business grows:
Acknowledge Your Limits
Remember to understand and acknowledge the limits of your team. Bring in the people and processes to keep operations running smoothly as early as possible so you can provide the opportunity and time for creative thinking and keep the ideas flowing.
Set Long-Term Goals
Draw a clear distinction between a long-term goal and the smaller-scale, day-to-day experience of pursuit of that goal. Doing this enables you to keep an eye on the big picture while also managing the daily tasks that will keep you on track.
Tap Into Technology
To help keep on top of industry trends, use Google Alerts to flag important information. You can set the frequency of the alerts (so you don’t get inundated) to stay informed of any interesting developments. You can also increase the opportunity for more collaboration by using tools like Slack for quick and seamless communication between colleagues.
Brainstorm With Different Departments
Invite members from other areas of the organization to different team brainstorming sessions to inject new thoughts. It will provide an infusion of new perspectives and related knowledge that will help you develop new ideas. Come into the session with a few examples of ideas to kick things off so those who are participating know what you are looking for.
Explore Different Approaches
Think about how you could take a closer look at assumptions that are underlying conventional thinking within your company or industry, then throw out those assumptions and look at things with a fresh perspective. Consider unexpected products or services that could be complementary to your current business model and challenge the “we’ve always done it that way” approach to every aspect of your organization.
Schedule Time To Think
Create a half-day or full-day session to leave the day-to-day tasks behind and truly think about more strategic issues. It often helps to have these types of meetings out of the office to put your team in a different physical environment and different frame of mind.
Business continues to move at a faster and faster pace, making gaining an edge on your competition an increasingly complicated task. Now more than ever, leaders need to identify creative breaks from predictable thinking in order to reveal what’s possible.
read more at http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/ by Debbie Millin, CommunityVoice