Browsing Posts tagged Business Innovation

Following business trends (both general trends and trends in your particular industry) is important to the health and long-term success of your business.  Staying aware of trends does not mean that you need to be on the “cutting edge” of every trend.  But, you need to watch those trends so that your business does not become obsolete as your competitors leverage those trends to their advantage.

There are many examples of businesses that failed, at least in part, because they did not recognize trends in their own industry.  Blockbuster Video is one example.  There are many stories and theories regarding the reasons for the downfall of Blockbuster.  But, most business analysts agree continue reading…

I was recently shopping for new lunch boxes for my kids to carry their lunch to school.  If you have not shopped for lunch boxes/bags lately, you may be surprised at the number of options.  Hard-sided lunch boxes made of metal or hard plastic.  Soft-sided bags of varying shapes and sizes.  And, of course, a huge variety of colors, designs and cartoon characters.

With previous lunch boxes, we have included a re-usable ice pack to keep the contents of the lunch box cold.  This approach works pretty well, but sometimes the ice pack “crushes” the food or the ice pack begins to leak blue liquid all over the contents of the lunch box.

As I reviewed the vast selection of lunch boxes at a local store, I noticed a new type of soft-sided lunch bag that had “built-in” ice.  The advertising materials for the lunch bag said “No Ice Needed!  It’s Built-In!”.  This innovative design includes a freezable gel in the sides of the lunch bag.  So, instead of putting an ice pack into the lunch bag to keep the contents cool, you put the entire lunch bag in the freezer overnight to chill the gel in the sides of the bag.  In the morning, you take the lunch bag out of the freezer and put the lunch inside.  The frozen gel keeps the contents of the lunch bag cool until lunch time.

I love this idea.  The lunch bag does a wonderful job of keeping the contents cool until lunch time.  I believe it does a better job than the old ice packs we used in the past.  Now I don’t have to worry about leaking ice packs or a shifting ice pack that slides to one end of the lunch bag and only keeps part of the lunch cool.

This creative product is an innovation example that combines two existing products to generate a new product providing new benefits to the customer.  This innovation adds a new feature that simplifies use of the product, rather than making it more complicated.  When looking for ways to provide more value to your own clients, don’t forget to consider simplifying your product or service for the benefit of your client.

Podcasting has been around for several years.  So, how can it be “innovative”?

I’m working on my own Podcast related to Business Innovation – I will post a message here when the first episode is ready.  For my business, Podcasting is something new – and a step outside my comfort zone.

Many people I have talked to about innovation receive most of their information about business innovation from books or magazines.  So, it occurred to me that there may be a “need” for innovation-related information distributed in a format other than print media.  This audio-based format will be a new option for people to receive  information from me about innovation.

So, I am now scheduling regular Teleseminars and will soon complete my first Podcast episode.  I’m learning about Podcasts from a friend of mine who is an expert on the topic.

If you want to be the first to hear about my upcoming Teleseminars and Podcast episodes, enter your first name and email address in the form at the top right corner of this page.  I will send you advanced notice of all my upcoming events and related information.

If you have any suggestions for Teleseminar or Podcast topics, please leave a comment below.

A baseball team in New York (the Hudson Valley Renegades) is offering free tickets every Monday to iPad owners.  This promotion appears to be in response to a decision by a different major league baseball team in the same area not to allow iPads into their stadium.   To capitalize on the publicity received by the other team, the Hudson Valley Renegades are encouraging fans to bring their iPads to the stadium.  In addition to free tickets every Monday to all iPad owners, the team is providing a support booth to help fans set up various social media services.

This is an innovative marketing approach to attract fans and get some “free advertising” for the team.  I’m not sure what the team is doing on Mondays to interact with the fans that bring iPads, but here are a couple possibilities.  The team could ask the iPad users to tweet during the game using a particular hash tag, then randomly select one of the tweets and give that person a prize.  The team could also send messages (tweets, text messages or emails) to fans at the game providing additional information about the players, statistics for the game, specials at the concessions, etc.

How can you apply similar innovative marketing techniques in your business?

I’ve read many articles about small businesses using new techniques to attract new clients or customers.  Some of these techniques are relatively simple, but produce a significant boost to the business.  A simple innovation in your business can help distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors.

Here’s an example of a local restaurant in my town that’s offering a new service to expand its sales.  The restaurant is a family-style restaurant that, until recently, did not offer continue reading…

Developing an innovation strategy in your business provides a variety of benefits.  As your business grows and becomes known as an innovator in the marketplace, many people will notice.  News articles and word-of-mouth advertising builds your reputation as an innovative company, which attracts new customers as well as potential employees and contractors.

Many people want to work in a creative and innovative environment. These people perceive less innovative companies as “boring” or “old fashioned”.  When you position yourself as an innovative company, employees and contractors will seek positions with your company.  This puts you in a strong position by attracting a large group of potential employees and contractors when your company has an open position.

I have known many top employees who were considering several new job opportunities. In addition to the actual job responsibilities, these people looked very closely at the company’s culture, which included the innovation culture and the creative environment.  In this situation, innovative companies had the edge in hiring these top candidates.

Consider taking steps to position your business as an innovator and begin experiencing the benefits of your innovative activities.

Innovation is commonly defined as “the introduction of something new” or “a new way of doing something”.  Many successful innovations improve on an existing product to make it faster, cheaper, or more efficient.  Other valuable innovations apply procedures and systems from one industry to another.

For example, Henry Ford is not credited with inventing the car nor did he invent the assembly line.  His innovation was to change the way cars were built by applying a moving assembly line (already in use in a different industry) to the automobile manufacturing process.  Thus, Ford’s innovation was the combination of an existing product (cars) with an existing procedure (the assembly line).  The moving assembly line developed by Henry Ford allowed individual workers to perform specific tasks while the vehicles moved along the assembly line, which greatly improved efficiency.  The moving assembly line reduced the time required to build each car, increased vehicle production levels and reduced the cost to manufacture each car.  Ford’s innovation of bringing the moving assembly line to the automotive industry allowed the company to sell more vehicles at a significantly lower cost, which distinguished it from other companies in the market that used less efficient manufacturing techniques.

Today’s Action Step:  Spend some time brainstorming about ways to innovate your business’ products or procedures.  Is there a particular unmet need in your market that your company can fill?  Are there procedures in other industries that can be adapted to your business to improve operations?  Write down your answers!

I regularly use case studies to teach my clients about innovation.  Case studies show a particular example of a business innovation, but can be generalized to apply to many businesses in a variety of markets.  The following case study describes an innovation developed at one of my clients.

A law firm regularly filed documents with a government agency by first class mail.  Each mailing would include a postcard addressed to the law firm that was date-stamped by the government agency and returned to the law firm.  The postcard acted as a receipt that the documents were received by the agency.

The law firm had an internal procedure that required each postcard to be stored in a physical file containing the documents mailed to the government agency.  These physical files were also used regularly by attorneys and support staff in the law firm.  Administrative employees spent a significant amount of continue reading…

Implementing an innovation strategy in your business may seem overwhelming at first.  I talk with many business leaders who are unclear about how to leverage innovation in their company.  I often hear something like “We are not a technology company, innovation doesn’t apply to us.”  Nothing is further from the truth.  All companies can benefit from innovation, regardless of size, industry or location.

Many business leaders fail to implement an innovation strategy because they don’t know how to get started and believe that it must be a time-consuming process.  However, the innovation process can be separated into a series of small steps that continue reading…

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