If scaling was easy everyone would do it and whilst there is plenty of information out there on scaling your company, there’s little in the way of focusing this on innovation.

And yet innovation is vital for companies that want to survive, thrive and grow.

An innovative business model can help to improve profitability and productivity, reduce costs and increase competitiveness.

Innovative thinking helps to nurture new partnerships and relationships whilst simultaneously improving brand recognition and value so for any business with an eye to future expansion, scaling its innovation is a ‘must-do’.

There is a flip side though. And that is where companies fail to give enough weight to innovation and end up falling behind their competitors – sometimes fatally.

So in this article, we’re giving you seven of our favourite tips for encouraging, developing and scaling your innovation. These look at two areas; starting innovative thinking and developing innovation that is already going on.

So in this piece, we are looking at;

  • Make the case
  • Develop an innovation culture
  • Celebrate your failures
  • Burn your house down
  • Don’t neglect the basics
  • Explode the hierarchy myth
  • Cultivate external relationships

 

1 – Make the case

So why should you innovate?

Oddly for a piece of informative and entertaining content, we aren’t going to tell you why.

That’s because if you want to develop and scale your innovation then you need to truly believe it because if the top of the organisation doesn’t believe then why should anyone else.

So start off by making the case. 

Develop your proposition so that it convinces you, then convince your cat.

Once you have got your pets believing it is time to move on to more critical members of the family and maybe some friends. If you have a business mentor then speak with them and maybe call your advisors.

You have to get to the point where you truly and completely believe in why you want to improve innovation and you’ve got 101 reasons why it will work for your business.

Only once you have developed your case can you present it to your team.

Remember, if you don’t believe in innovation, then nobody else will.

2 – Develop an innovation culture

Many business leaders talk the talk of innovation but when it comes down to practicalities they don’t walk the walk.

They say they want to encourage different thinking and then shoot down any left-field ideas immediately.

They promise to support new development and then baulk when they are asked for money and resources.

And worst of all, they fail to hire the right people and nurture their talent.

So if you want an innovative company then you need to develop an innovative culture.

This means a willingness to investigate, question and make mistakes.

It means that anyone can have an idea that can be developed and that no source of inspiration is off-limits.

If you run a traditional organisation then this can be hard. Letting the R&D people out of their little box might seem tough, but it gets even harder when you realise that truly scaled innovation means that everyone, from the CFO to the marketing team, from product development to the compliance team are all involved.

Be aware though – you can’t fake culture.

3 – Celebrate your failures

How would you like an advisory board that had Bill Gates, JK Rowling and Walt Disney as members?

Hopefully, you’d be a bit more insightful than Disney’s first editor who said he  “lacked imagination and had no good ideas?”.

Or the Seattle Traffic management employee who turned down Gates and his Traf-o-Data system. Or the (reportedly) dozen publishing houses that turned down Harry Potter.

Imagine if you knew that you had to produce ten iterations of a new type of camera before a sector changing disruptor product turned up. Would you stop after version nine?

Of course not. But in real life, we don’t know how many versions we have to produce before we get to ‘the one’.

The truth is that you have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them if you want to find the one development that will make a million.

The key here is the “learn from them” bit. So you have to have a culture that is open enough to identify mistakes and then have a process for collecting the learning.

So celebrate the fact that you are making iterative mistakes otherwise people will be afraid to even try.

4 – Burn your house down

Slightly dramatic we agree but if you really want to scale your innovation then you need to be prepared to be really creative.

Imagine your house was on fire. What three things would you save?

Now imagine you could only develop three of your current projects. Which three would they be?

This is a simple method of getting you to focus your efforts on the things that are most likely to make the most difference to your business.

Sometimes it is better to focus all of your efforts and get something into production rather than split your resources across too many projects.

5 – Don’t neglect the basics

Boring.

But necessary nonetheless.

There can’t be many people who haven’t met that amazing inventor with a billion ideas and just as many failed companies behind them.

They fail for two reasons.

The first is that they neglect the simple stuff like bookkeeping, marketing and the legals.

They probably got an immense tax bill they weren’t expecting or didn’t sign up people to Non-Disclosure Agreements and someone stole their ideas.

The second reason is that they run out of cash, quickly.

We all know that development and innovation are cash hungry and take time before it pays dividends so the key tip here is to develop funding lines that can keep pace with your research.

Take our R&D finance for example. This gives you access to cash and allows you to draw down several times a year, meaning that you can keep your innovation flowing without worrying about how to pay the rent.

Having a flexible funding line from people who really do understand R&D is an amazing boost to a research-heavy business.

6 – Explode the hierarchy myth

If you want innovation then you need smart people.

If you want innovation at scale then you need to free them from the shackles of traditional hierarchies.

If developers have to go through layers of management to get projects approved then you can bet that a lot of good ideas are dying along the way.

If a researcher can’t ask the ‘big boss’ a question without going through his PA, then you are going to have restricted growth.

Make sure anyone can ask anything of anyone.

7 – Cultivate external relationships

How many times have we heard that you can’t do everything alone and yet how many times do we try?

If you want a force multiplier then working on R&D with other organisations is like gold dust.

Working in formal joint ventures with complementary companies helps of course, as do research tie-ups with universities and educational establishments.

But don’t neglect less formal relationships, like networking or ideas exchanges.

Great ideas and amazing insights can come from the most unexpected quarters so take every opportunity you can to speak with peers, thought-leaders and people from other sectors.

You might be amazed what turns up!

Summary: Culture, organisation and money

Scaling your innovation can’t be achieved with a simple silver bullet.

In fact, you need to make sure you have a range of measures, all designed to foster a culture of innovation, enquiry and research.

You have to genuinely believe in the power of innovative thinking and be the head cheerleader for the new culture.

You have to do the basic stuff like getting your legals right, sorting out your accounting and making sure your business has the cash it needs to survive.

And you need to make sure you nurture talent, giving it permission to make mistakes and learning from the projects that don’t make it.

It’s not easy, but then nothing worthwhile ever is and when it pays off it is a massive morale boost.

Good luck with scaling your innovation and if you need a helping hand with cash flow, call us now and we’ll be delighted to tell you about our uniques funding option.


CONTACT US

UK:
Toby Walker
+44(0)7804132386
toby@rockinghorsegroup.co.uk

UK:
James Davis
+44(0)7379393627
james@rockinghorsegroup.co.uk

Australia:
Giles Karhan
+61(0)411622414
giles@rockinghorsegroup.com.au