The real role of innovation
The word ‘innovation’ is among the most over-used rallying cries in business.
But what does innovation actually mean, and can it be used in a genuine way to shape the culture and performance of people and companies?
By definition, innovation means to use creativity to enhance the performance of a process, person, team or organisation.In essence, innovation is about solving problems in new and creative ways, ways that provide a better outcome for both business and client.
In theory and practice, innovation certainly seems like it passes muster. So why is the term so overused, almost to the point of cliché?
“Because innovation is much easier said than done,” says AssetOn Managing Director, Anthony Large.
“To truly enable innovation, you need to set the right organisational climate and culture. There’s a big pay off, but not every company is prepared to do the work and create the right conditions.”
An innovative mindset was behind the creation of AssetOn as a company – using technology and creative thinking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of asset management. That mindset still pervades the business now, and has been cemented into culture as one of the company’s six core values [internal link to values article].
Let’s take a look at what innovation means to AssetOn:
- Take smart risks by trying things (that might not work) and learn from failures – if we risk nothing, we learn nothing, and we cement ourselves into doing things the same way, every day. Smart risks protect the downside while exploring opportunities to be better.
- Keep things simple, shed complexity where practical – being able to simplify something shows you truly understand it. If things seem too complex, they probably are.
- Challenge assumptions when warranted and suggest better approaches–don’t assume the things you’ve been told are the only path to success.
- Learn from the mistakes of others – and share your own learnings, too. This builds the overall capability of the team.
- Don’t re-invent things, leverage existing systems and services – sometimes a small tweak to an existing process can make all the difference.
- Be curious – ask questions and continually assess your actions.
The ultimate winners from an innovative mindset are AssetOn clients. But working in an innovative culture brings many benefits to staff as well, like improved job satisfaction and an openness to learning.
“Innovation doesn’t come without risk, so as an organisation we have to be comfortable with that and extend a tolerance of calculated risk to our team,” Anthonysays.
“We take sensible risks to achieve better outcomes. Our failures are seen as opportunities to grow.
“There’s a well know quote which says ‘you can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and still be in business tomorrow’ and that’s exactly the point we’re making by including innovation as a value at AssetOn.”