[Video] Six Steps to Business Innovation (that you can actually use).
By Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 13 August 2015
Innovation is often cited as a top priority among business leaders – yet few take any concrete steps to truly make it a feature of organisational culture. We interviewed Nicole Shapiro, Brand Associate Director at Added Value S.A., to find out how every business can undergo an innovation makeover.
“Step one is debunk the myths,” she says. “There are a number of myths that surround innovation in the organisation. Innovation is up on this pedestal, and people don’t know how to even get started.”
She notes that there are three myths that can be debunked.
“The first is that innovation should sit in a special area within the business. It should rather be a role for everyone in the business to feed in innovative ideas, because everyone can be innovative,” she says.
The second myth is that innovation has to be difficult and complex.
“But if you think about the best innovations, they’ve all been really, really simple,” she says. “The third myth is that organisations need a complete overhaul when it comes to innovation. If we take a simple example, like Castle Lite, which is a really innovative and fantastic product, they do incremental innovation. So things like a new bottle type or a new cap or a snow indicator can add value. It is the small things that lead to more innovative products in companies.”
According to Shapiro, there are six things that you can do to be more innovative as a company. She calls it the 6 I’s model.
“The first ‘I’ is around Insights from your consumers,” she says. “It’s about really understanding the needs of your consumers so that you can serve them better. If you take an example like Hollard, they developed a startup pack insurance offering. They saw that the average consumer couldn’t take out funeral insurance because it was just too difficult. They looked at how consumers interact with retail stores and in particular Pep Stores, and they almost created a starter pack for insurance for these consumers… You could buy it off the shelf in Pep Stores, and do the paperwork later.”
She says the second ‘I’ is about getting Intelligence from your competitors.
“If you truly understand what your competitors are doing, only then can you see how you can possibly beat them,” she explains. “So if you take FNB, which is one of the most innovative banks in SA (and globally), they’ve done phenomenally well by looking at how other banks have done things and then beating them to it.”
She adds: “Even if you take the ultimate in innovative companies, Apple, what really re-launched their success in the market was the iPod. They weren’t the first to do a music player, all they did was look at competitors and see how they could do it better. They made a better product.”
The third ‘I’ – getting Inspiration from international companies.
“Although international companies don’t always fit into the local market [context] there are still learnings and sometimes full business models that we just don’t have in SA,” she says. “If you take the success of Sorbet hair salons and dry bars, the concept was pretty much a copy paste of what was happening in the UK and US market.”
The fourth ‘I’ is about getting Inspiration from other categories.
“So if a hotel does something a certain way, for example, it doesn’t mean that a bank can’t copy some of those principles. If you take the Virgin [airline] Business class offering, they didn’t look at other airlines, they looked at other concierge services and restaurants to improve their offering.”
In her view, it’s about getting inspiration from other companies that have similar challenges to your business.
“The fifth ‘I’ is about Internal Learnings, and this is something that once again has worked really well for FNB,” she says. “Michael Jordaan, as CEO of FNB, implemented a programme whereby whoever it was that conceptualised and implemented a great new idea got R1 million.”
She maintains that if you don’t get inspiration and internal learnings from your front line staff, you can’t be innovative as a company.
“Lastly, it’s about Incremental Improvement,” she says. “You don’t necessarily need a big, organisation-wide overhaul, you just need small incremental innovations…those small, incremental improvements can do wonders.”