Innovation in six easy steps

Did you know Canadians Invented canola oil? How about alkaline batteries? Snow mobiles? The telephone? Canada needs to innovate more but we need to understand what innovation is and how we as Canadians in small businesses create innovation ourselves in local markets.

Here’s an except about the invention of Canola oil. The reference refers to simple beginnings to overcoming challenges. No one said innovation was easy!

“From simple beginnings in the 1940s, Canada’s canola industry has faced and overcome many challenges. Alternative markets were developed, nutritional studies were implemented, and extensive plant breeding to modify the nutritional make-up of rapeseed was undertaken”.

Let’s now fast forward in time to see how demand for Canola oil has grown:

“1979: Over 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) were seeded to canola. During the 1978-79 crop year, Japanese imports of canola seed exceeded one million tonnes for the first time”.

What an amazing story considering Canola’s humble beginnings! If you are interested in reading more, I will provide you with a link at the bottom of my post.

Innovation is becoming a key tool and strategic driver for organizations to succeed. Innovation, I think in the business world is an overused word. The word Innovation sounds exciting. However, what does innovation mean to your organization? Does innovation mean different things to people within your business? Your department? Innovation drives operational effectiveness once the item you are innovating is implemented.

Here’s a quick look at what trends are emerging in the area of innovation:

1. Creating consensus on what Innovation means to your organization. This means getting together a cross functional team to help define what innovation is. Agreeing through consensus is the first step. The second is to execute innovation strategies to enable your organization to be successful.

2. Planning. You have consensus. Now you need a plan to deliver. You also need all staff know in the organization so they can support the execution. This helps create the right culture. To get the creation of innovation, you need staff buy in at all levels.

3. Grow your innovation culture. You need to also frame your innovation culture around your customer’s needs and areas where you see you can fulfill their need.

4. Make strategic investments over the long term. Cost cutting is short term to meet short term targets. Longer term goals need time allocated to discuss and track. Growth occurs when you stick to your long term plans.

5. Process, Process, Process. There are processes and procedures in every other area of your business. Why can’t you also create processes that will move innovation forward? Innovation does not just happen. You need to make it happen.

6. Include everyone. Innovation does not happen in the C-suite. It happens with the everyday person. if you are the sole proprietor in your small business, network with similar businesses or at your local chamber of commerce to help facilitate your ideas amongst your peers. Your never alone!

If you have succeeded in an innovation, don’t forget to patent it!

www.canolainfo.org/canola/index.php?page=5

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