Whether you work for a company in the U.S. or work abroad, you must understand that to be innovative with big ideas, the company culture must embrace the start-up culture or develop a culture that supports innovation that strives to develop new products. Many companies would rather just merge with an organization rather than invest millions in R&D, and rightfully so if the overall company charge is in another direction.
However, if your corporation seeks to put a percentage of its employees’ time into developing new ideas, then there are a few things that must be embraced by the company. The first is to be open to innovative, new ideas, no matter what the idea is. Secondly, the company must be in the position to spend dollars to flush out ideas. The organization must also have the right people and capabilities to make things come to life. And when ideas seem solid, there must be a strategy surrounding the idea as well as the company goals. And most importantly, as part of the strategy, the innovation must be functional and appealing to potential customers.
All team members must be engaged to steer the innovation towards life. Testing methods must be developed and the company must support various versions of a product well before the final version. Senior management must be behind the trial and error phase and push the team to strive for the best functioning quality possible. Team players should feel pride and passion in order to develop something they can be truly proud of.
In regards to testing the product, the company culture should embrace focus groups and customer testing to ensure the team is on the right path. If R&D budgets allow, testing should take place during each new phase of development or following any significant changes to the product. There should also be a member of the team who is assigned to ensure that the product development is consistently and closely following the strategy and company goals. This is a critical aspect to drive support internally. Departments of the organization should be communicated to during major phases of development so that the departments embrace the strategy and have consistent buy-in to the progress and end result.
Big ideas can take years to develop. Corporate culture must embrace this fact and be willing to invest over the long haul. If not, then chances are slim that the investment will pay off in the end. Research and data analysis is also a given and must align with projected financial target goals. This will also lead to creative ways to get customer buy-in early on, who will most likely be seeking superior product performance, innovative new features to an existing/similar product in the marketplace, top product quality and a great, competitive price.
Another approach could be to involve potential customers in the development process throughout each phase until the development is complete. With so many social media outlets out there today, it can be a great way to share ideas and improve development. The trick is to avoid a parallel path with competitors trying to do the same thing. Yet the upside is the value of customer inclusion and being the first one to do it.
There should also be an additional team member who is responsible for keeping an eye on culture shifts within the company as well as the industry. A sharp focus on new emerging fast trends can contribute to improving performance of the product. One must also be aware of changes to the product and how it affects the initial strategy. If innovation strays too far off the path of the company mission, then this is cause for re-evaluation. If the strategy is aligned then one must also be aware of the ongoing amount of resources dedicated to the innovation so that there is consistent product development to meet the end goal and deadline.
Companies developing new, innovative ideas will always be charged with learning lessons from such an invested process, yet, the key is to constantly re-evaluate to ensure that strategy, corporate cultures, financial goals, and shifts in innovation work together to drive the best execution possible.
When all elements align, a good idea has a better chance of offering solid, long-term financial returns.