How to boost innovation and fresh thinking in your business

By 11 October 2018 News No Comments
Innovation light bulb on post it notes

What is innovation?

Innovation is the process of transforming a novel idea into a practical solution, perhaps making an existing process more efficient, more profitable or even making someone’s life easier or more pleasurable. HD recognises innovation as significant step-forwards in technology that will make a real difference; to save lives, improve quality of life, and boost our client’s business performance.

New, innovative products that have the potential to disrupt markets, can quite often originate from a casual chat between colleagues… “what if we….? or wouldn’t it be cool if..?” Innovative solutions are invariably a result of diverse thoughts colliding together to form a new idea. Ideas lead to concept designs, and with development can evolve into innovative products.

Valuing your team – understanding everyone has potential to innovate (different; backgrounds, social upbringing, education, work experiences, hobbies, interests and general take on life), having a diverse mix of opinion conversing in a positive way, can be a great catalyst for new ideas.

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design”

Dieter Rams

With the right working culture, staff will freely offer up new ideas without fear of criticism or being knocked back. Actually, some of the dafter ideas often spawn new avenues of thinking. Breaking from the traditional autocratic/pyramid management structure can be challenging for some companies, however a more relaxed communication structure can greatly improve opportunity for innovation and allow cross fertilisation of early thoughts.

“The best ideas start as conversations”

“At the start of the process the idea is just a thought – very fragile and exclusive. When the first physical manifestation is created, everything changes. It is no longer exclusive, now it involves a lot of people”

Jonathan Ive – one of Stafford’s finest designers.

At HD we are continually encouraging innovation through team training, improving our working environment and morale to keep our team energised. A happy and focussed team means we enjoy work and our clients benefit from fresher ideas. Patent grants are now a regular occurrence with the HD team being named inventors for 20+ customer patents. It’s worth remembering patents can also mean your company is eligible for a 10% reduction in corporation tax, through the Patent Box Scheme.

Good communication across teams and disciplines is essential, the traditional silo mentality of separated rivalling departments can lead to a defensive and stagnated culture. Try mixing up your teams, sit engineers next to creative designers – you’ll find they can actually get on! Create areas where people can meet and feel comfortable to converse, we have ‘breakfast bar’ style tables where the team can quickly come together and share ideas and drawings. Glass walls offer convenient space to quickly sketch out and explain ideas. We encourage regular breaks and walking meetings. We walk around our technology park in Stafford, it’s more invigorating than sat at desks and proving to be more fruitful for ideas and solutions.

Kickstart your own innovation journey. If you want to use our experience and grow your own innovation culture, we can help, give us a call on 01785 243767.

Lee Smith

Head of Design & Innovation