illustration of a group of individuals showing what it means to be innovative as a group

What does it mean to be innovative and why does it matter?

Everyone’s an innovator. Wrong! But they could be…

The industries that we know, and love are constantly changing, and it is easy to get left behind. These changes are driven by people, technology, and one special secret: innovation. Most companies agree that innovation is the key to thriving in any market, but what does it really mean and why does it matter? In this article, we will discuss how to change your mindset to be innovative as an individual and as a company to drive change and meet those goals that you have been chasing.

What does it mean to be innovative and why does it matter?

Breaking Down Innovation

When it really comes down to it, innovation is all about changing a business or industry for the better. It means taking the time to find a new way to look at something and using that perspective to improve it. Innovation is meant to be a change from the everyday processes, and it should always be focused on growth in some way.

Be it finding a way to draw in more customers or finding a more effective way to manufacture a product to lower operating costs, innovation should be a game-changer. The tricky truth about innovation is that it always wears a different face—but that is the beauty of it too.

The Innovative Individual

Before innovation can really grow, it has to start with a person. Groups will often evolve an idea and bring it to life, but the initial spark always starts with an individual. At some point, someone will spot an area that needs improvement. Often they will have the solutions, but sometimes they will simply recognise the need for innovation in an area. There are many ways for a person to be innovative, and they only grow with time.

Looking for Areas of Improvement

On the individual level, innovation is all about remaining aware. You want to look for opportunities everywhere, whether it is something simple in your own processes or a bigger way to improve the company. Constantly keeping an eye out for an opportunity to make something better at your company can help you to be an innovator. Steve Jobs saw areas of improvement for PCs, so he decided to make his own.

Sharing Good Ideas

The best ideas should always be shared. Therefore, as you see areas that might benefit from a change, try to come up with solutions and share them with others. An innovator will always be responsible for coming up with that million-dollar idea. However, you first need to be open to the concept of sharing your ideas to turn that initial spark into a raging fire of innovation.

Practicing Creative Brainstorming

At the heart of all good innovations are powerful brainstorming sessions with others. However, to be truly innovative on an individual level, you first have to be willing to engage with others. It might be a single brainstorming session at your desk or one with your colleagues. Nikola Tesla redefined entire industries because he allowed himself to dream of a different future. What matters is that you get your thoughts flowing.

The Innovative Company

All of the most successful companies are masters of innovation and rely on compelling changes to influence their industries. Companies that embrace innovation can change their industry completely, or create the industry that replaces the current industry instead. Innovation happens at every level and in every industry, but innovative companies tend to have a few things in common.

Active Goals

Innovation efforts are much bigger on a company level. In fact, even the smallest changes can have long and lasting impacts on the company and the industry it works in. To begin, an innovative company will always have a distinct set of goals that it plans to improve upon. Companies keep an eye out for areas of opportunity, just like individuals do. Tesla started with a focus on electric vehicles and is now offering solar solutions for homes. While these products are in a similar vein, they are actually focused on two different industries. They saw an opportunity to push their technology further, so they did.

Communication Hubs

For a company to be innovative, it needs to have the right space for innovation to happen and the right inclusive culture to embrace it. Innovative companies thrive on originality and above all encourage their employees to share it. They create a space that allows innovative employees to share their ideas and carry out brainstorming sessions. More importantly, they actually use these ideas and take active steps to embrace the ones that drive true change.

Trendsetting

When a company is innovative, you can see it in everything that they do. These companies redefine their industries on a regular basis and are constantly challenging themselves to be better. By making moves and embracing change, they also encourage the industry to look towards the future, even if the future looks different. Being innovative means striving for that one change that will influence the industry in a positive way.

Netflix made the notable decision to provide media content and create their own full-length productions, which has inspired other companies like Hulu and Amazon to do the same. Instead of sticking to the traditional mindset and simply acting as media providers, these companies now create their own content in-house, and the benefits are substantial.

Conclusion

Being innovative is not a simple series of steps that a person or company can take. Instead, it is a complete shift in mindset that encourages growth and change. Innovative companies filled with innovative individuals will lead the future of every industry. Adopting these changes is what makes the next big game-changer possible!

Written by Åse Angland-Lindvall

With relentless energy and an unrivalled vision for helping companies to be successful, a core skill she gained at her time at E.ON and Ericsson, Åse helps companies understand the need for continuous innovation.

24/05/2021

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