Subscribe to industry newsletters

Search jobs

Be more innovative: Three big ideas

Being innovative may carry a bit of risk, but as with any risk, the potential results are worth the investment. Time put into innovation can pay off by increasing the exposure of your brand, and it is also good for company morale. Here are three ideas as to how to be more innovative with your time, both on an individual level and a company level.
Be more innovative: Three big ideas

New Facebook insights

For starters, Facebook updated its algorithm to favour "clicked-content" in the news feed, which means that the more often a video is clicked on, it's more likely to appear in fans' news feeds. This is important information to be aware of, since it turns out that videos that are clicked, liked, and viewed are now more important than videos that are 'Liked,' shared, or commented upon. Of course, this algorithm change might make you think, upon first glance, that clickbait has become the new king.

Rather than waking up in a panic, rounding together your graphic design team, and making a clickbait-style video for the benefit of your FB stats, you might consider trying a different approach: interacting with your customers online. Interaction also pays off, in Facebook algorithm land. Buck the trend of creating even more watered down content for the sake of numbers, and strive, instead, toward a quality-over-quantity approach: your thoughtful and conscientious customers will appreciate it, and you won't appear to be hurriedly falling in line with the 'cool kids.' Yes, you want to get attention, but not at the expense of quality and taste.

Innovation from the top

Suzanne Piotrowski, professor at the School of Public Affairs & Administration at Rutgers University, outlines five behaviours most creative executives possess "that distinguish them from their peers and drive innovation": observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, and associating. They pay attention to customers' needs and concerns, noticing how they interact with the product and asking questions to make sure they understand what is noticed. Also, they aren't afraid to create new prototypes and test drive them to see how they do. Lastly, they collaborate with others, make connections in the field, and, as a result, draw connections between points of observation and information in order to come to new and different conclusions.

This is why it's a great reason to attend a conference in your field. Attend talks, write down ideas, and talk to other professionals in your industry. Allow your observations about what everyone else is doing to teach you something. However, beware of the need to follow the trend. It's great to learn from others, but don't do so to the detriment of your own uniqueness and singular voice that helps set your brand or product apart from others. Standing back and thinking about things on your own, as a company, will likely require some research.

Company-wide innovation is key

Drew Marshall, the founder of Primed Associates, says the following about innovation: "Creativity is the price of admission, but it's innovation that pays the bills." How does Marshall define innovation? Creativity is the somewhat abstract ability to "unleash the power of the mind," while innovation is an "act of systemic organisation that requires investment in R&D" - or research and development. This means that it's a good idea to have a portion of any company dedicated to market research and investigation into the behaviour and preferences of consumers in your niche.

In a 2012 study by Northeastern University professors Frederick Crane and Marc Meyer, there were a few key characteristics of successful innovation campaigns. Their introduction points to a humorous analogy comparing corporate innovation to the mating behavior of pandas: "Corporate innovation is analogous to the mating of pandas; infrequent, clumsy, and often, ineffective."

It is precisely because of presence of risk and awkwardness in implementation that many companies shy away from regular research and innovation. However, one of Crane and Meyer's key characteristics of successful implementation, after clearly defined goals, is the removal of fear from the innovation process. Don't be scared! It's essential to take risks and avoid dwelling on the negative possibilities of what can go wrong. Yes, the more conservative time investments don't contain any risk, but the potential for gain also isn't as great.

The takeaway, therefore, is to forego the Facebook clickbait gods for genuine interaction, do all you can to encourage curiosity and observation, at the top, and lobby for company-wide research and development, despite the tendency to cling to known variables at the expense of new and different experimentation. If you pay attention to what is unique about your product and isn't being said or done, you're more likely to gain new followers and customers than if you adhere stolidly to only the proverbial tried-and-true techniques. Never be afraid to be different!

About Daphne Stanford

Daphne Stanford is a writer of many things: poetry, creative nonfiction, and songs for vox & piano. On her off time, she writes, hikes, sings, and reads poems over the FM airwaves at Radio Boise. You can find her on Twitter, now, as well: @TPS_on_KRBX.

Let's do Biz