Innovation (building a better mouse trap) can be a key ingredient to improve revenues and growth in your business.
So much of what is on the market today is innovation rather than invention. This is not a bad thing, but it means that people are continually reimagining how to make a product bigger, better, faster, or more appealing. The mousetrap has already been invented, but now we need to build one that is more humane, disposable, sanitary, comes in a variety of colors and sizes and is easier to bait.
Your company has well-established procedures and methods for accomplishing its purpose. Some of these may have been unchanged for decades. Many businesses live by the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately in today’s world, this can cause a company to be left behind in the dust.
How do you avoid that? Simple, ask the very people who are using these methods day in and day out…. your employees.
Your employees may have figured out a better or more efficient way to do their portion of the business. They only keep doing things the original way because that is what they are required to do. You have good workers who are aware of the flaws in the system they are using and have probably been brainstorming about a better and more efficient way to accomplish the task. Coming up with a better mousetrap comes naturally for these creative individuals. Sit down with them and let them share their ideas for tweaking the system to make it better.
One of your office workers may know a smart way to improve customer service. A supervisor may have figured out a faster way to process orders or tighten up delivery time. One of your engineers may have researched and found a cost-cutting machine that can replace the one that keeps breaking down. If your people are dedicated to your business, they will be on the lookout for ways to improve the proficiency of their activities and departments.
So here are two ways I have used with my clients and in my business to drive innovation (build a better mouse trap) in my business:
Build a diverse team – I am sure you have heard this over and over again, but it’s a fact. Teams made up of people from different backgrounds, different genders, with different outlooks and ways of thinking, way out perform teams that are made up of people from the same background or the same thought process. McKinsey has been examining diversity and its impact on business performance for several years. Their latest report, Diversity Matters, examined data sets for 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The findings were clear:
- Companies in the top quartile for diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- In the United States, for every 10 percent increase in diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.
- In the United Kingdom, for every 10 percent increase in diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 percent.
Get the whole team involved - One of the best ways to encourage your employees to build a better mousetrap is to get their suggestions. Send around a questionnaire that asks them if they have any ideas for making one or more of their daily tasks more efficient. Collect the ideas. Hold a workshop in which you and your senior team brainstorm these ideas to see which ones could make a real difference in the productivity and efficiency of the business. If you implement any of these ideas, be sure to give that employee recognition and even a reward for coming up with the idea. This will prompt more of your employees to think seriously about what they are doing and to be involved in making your company the best it can be.
Innovation (building a better mouse trap) can be a key ingredient to improve revenues and growth in your business. It does not have to be scary and complicated.
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