Innovation: It’s Not Just About Product, It’s About Process Too
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few years about reducing organisational complexity and creating more flexible operating models to improve the process of taking a product to market. Previously, companies could only tell if a product was successful by the number of sales and the money in the bank, but the rise of the internet and social channels has made it possible to get feedback from customers via these channels before a product is even launched.
Obviously this is extremely useful for businesses as it helps to hone the offering and reduce mistakes if processes are changed to incorporate this kind of feedback. But what about the processes that make this possible?
What is Agile?
Many companies used to use the traditional waterfall approach to create a product vision, developing it and then launching it. But technological advances now mean this is no longer such an efficient way of working. One way businesses can look to embrace these advances and overcome complexity is through agile working.
PWC says that to be more agile, “businesses need to re-think the way they operate to reduce organisational complexity and create more flexible, scalable operating models that are capable of quickly responding to new market opportunities and/or operate at lower cost.” Agile working can be really beneficial in terms of achieving business goals rapidly, but changing processes can be scary and isn’t something that should be undertaken on a whim. Start small; pick a project to test the process out on, such as implementing a new IT system internally. Make it cross functional, so that different experts and departments can get involved and see the benefits of changing to a more reactive way of working.
But improving your agility doesn’t just have to mean agile working; there are other ways of innovating internal processes that can help break down complexity. Try working to shorter planning cycles. Giving shorter time frames can encourage quick thinking, but there are a few important things to remember:
- Keep the team focused otherwise short term goals are likely to be missed. Try having one face-to-face meeting a day to help motivate and concentrate energies on the things that count.
- Don’t worry about failure (in the short term)
- Encourage experimentation and risk, place less importance on lengthy presentations and sign-offs
Another way of improving agility is through implementing simple social collaboration tools such as Mindjet Tasks or Yammer. Reducing email and taking things “offline” can be a great way to encourage conversation and content sharing, but make sure you invest in the right tools to support this for your organisation. For some people a conversational social tool is right, but for others something more visual may work better.
However you choose to innovate in your processes, remember that Agile working is not new, but it is a new way of working. Varying working practices, deploying new technologies and creating new working environments will reduce complexity and help the business provide a better product to customers.