Innovation cannot happen without a business that recognises and actively promotes change as a process. Here’s how you can build innovation into your business.

Any organisation that aims to do things differently and push the boundaries must get used to the idea that innovation goes hand in hand with risk. If your organisation is going to do any sort of substantive innovation, it must be able to handle risk.  While this does not sit comfortably with all project managers, and indeed all organisations, it is essential for any real change to take place.

Innovation is all about change; changing the way you do things to produce better results. So it’s natural that your project team will lack hands-on experience and have to learn new things.  That means you’re inevitably going to make mistakes.  You might underestimate the time a task will take, or need to make changes once you’ve received feedback from your team.  Most importantly the feedback needs to be realtime!

However, in most organisations, projects are very much black and white. There is fixed scope, set budgets and deadlines and defined roles and responsibilities. Project managers often feel the weight of deadlines and tight resources, so any room for experimentation is removed. If this sounds like your organisation, what changes can you make to build innovation into your team?

1. Finding Inspiration

The truth is that most project managers want to have a settled project team. They want each member of the team to know their role and responsibilities and deliver them on time.  But this gives very little opportunity to look outside of the project to see what’s going on.  Most businesses are advancing at a faster rate than ever before, so it is essential project teams are given the time to read, experiment and discuss ideas with piers, looking outside the organisation and spending time with people they can learn from and be inspired by. Teams that work in isolation are less exposed to new ways of working and therefore less likely to come up with new ideas.

2. Sharing New Ideas

There’s no point giving a project team the opportunity to be inspired by ideas from the wider world if this information is not shared effectively within the team. Ideas that are shared with the whole team can be improved upon, made workable and ultimately integrated into new business processes.

Great communication is an essential part of every innovative team.  Information needs to be able to flow easily between team members, and face-to-face meetings are one of the most effective ways to share and discuss what they know.  Where face-to-face meetings aren’t possible, video conferencing can be an effective substitute.

3. Driving Innovation from the Top

Innovation cannot happen without a project manager who recognises that change is part of a process. To innovate effectively, project managers must create an environment that allows and encourages new ideas to surface. These leaders ask why and what questions and want to learn from the people around them.

This is opposed to a controlling leader who creates an environment where team members feel stifled and wants to take the credit for any innovative ideas. Instead of shifting responsibility to the team, they want to stay in control and tell others exactly what to do.

4. Hiring Different Personality Types

Innovative teams are made up of people with different but complementary personality types and skills. Some organisations like to hire similar personality types in the hope that workers will get on, but make it too uniform and you lose the ability to generate and implement new ideas.  Innovative teams are typically made up of creative thinkers, but also technical experts and more pragmatic individuals who can refine and implement those ideas.

5. Allowing Experimentation

Teams that work to a tight schedule will tend to be less innovative, simply because they do not have the time to come up with new ideas. Innovative teams are allowed to take the time they need to experiment, look outside their current workload and play around with new ideas. Many of these new ideas will invariably fail, but from these failures lessons can be learned that pave the way for future innovation.

Supporting innovative teams

The future of your business is changing and innovative organisations are turning to new dynamic software to support their ability to do business at speed.  Teams need to be encouraged to report time accurately, knowing something takes longer allows you to plan effectively the next time, by identifying anomalies  you will find where people have created methods to reduce the time it takes to perform tasks, sharing these tools will allow you to increase performance.  SAP Business ByDesign can support you and your team, please contact us for more information.

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