How to use innovation to improve business productivity

Everybody talks about innovation today, but mostly in the context of growing your business by creating new products, solutions and service offerings.

Innovation can not only impact your top line, but also your bottom line by reducing costs through productivity enhancement. In this article, we will look at 3 effective ways to leverage innovation as a tool to increasing productivity.

how to use innovation to improve business productivity

Before we get into the 3 techniques, you need to understand what business productivity is. Simply, it refers to any business outcome that reduces effort and time and hence cost. We will attempt to see innovation at different levels in this context.

So here we go.

1. Innovation in processes and policies

Innovation is beyond technology enhancements and inventions. It could apply to your business’s way of working. Many organizations have processes that are decades old, hampering business productivity and effectiveness. Sometimes this evens leads to crisis situations threatening business continuity.



 

 

Now the question is how innovation can play a critical role in revamping your processes and policies.

It could be in terms of removing the redundant steps in a process, or replacing an irrelevant rule in a set of policies. Following are a few more ways in which you can achieve this:

  • Making process improvements a mandate and a KRA (Key Result Area) for managers and leaders.
  • Establishing innovative HR practices and policies. CRM giant Salesforce giving seven paid days of volunteer time off each year is a classic example.
  • Put processes in place that uphold company values and culture, like improving transparency levels. Many CEOs believe that workplace transparency is of utmost importance.

Being innovative in creating processes and employee friendly policies is instrumental to building a highly motivated workforce. This will in turn help improve business productivity, and hence business outcomes.

2. Best in class technology to support business operations

Innovation is most visible in the area of technology today. Some industries – such as healthcare, automobile – are far ahead in the race, while others lag behind – such as banking, auditing.

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However, majority of the innovation streams revolve around one or more forms of technology. And it plays a crucial role in optimizing business operations. As a business, you need to invest in cutting edge technologies and platforms that will help you automate your business processes.

Technological innovation play at three levels when it comes to improving business productivity.

  1. For enhancing internal processes and activities.
  2. Improving customer facing business operations.
  3. Optimizing futuristic or R&D efforts.

At all the above three levels, technology can help improve business productivity in the following ways:

  • Create a highly collaborative environment by using communication softwares.
  • Automation makes tasks easier for employees.
  • Easily monitor and track business operations.
  • Improves traceability of employee actions.
  • Analyze performance of business operations using applications like GoCanvas.

Technologies like RPA (Robotic Process Automation) aim to eliminate human involvement in business processes to achieve maximum productivity. You can also resort to business productivity softwares such as Slab or Streamtime to enhance workplace productivity.

3. Build the culture of innovation among your employees

This is, quite often the most difficult thing to achieve while embracing innovation. You could have the best technology and processes in place. But if your employees’ mindset does not align with your vision of applying innovation to improve business productivity, it is very unlikely that you will get desirable outcomes.

Hence, before you even think about purchasing the latest technology or changing your process, you need invest time and effort in preparing your employees for the innovation journey. Following are a few ways in which you can do this:

  • Incentivize them by rewarding those who come up with/implement the best innovation.
  • Offer them more visibility in return of their efforts in innovation. An example is giving them more opportunities to interact with the senior leadership of your organization.
  • Conduct innovation based contests and events to improve internal awareness of your initiative, and to attract more employees to take part in innovation.
  • Make them part of your inner family. By this I mean to give a sense of importance to your employees. You can do this by letting them know the importance of the innovation initiative you have embarked on.
  • Give them new tools and resources to work on. One of the ways to keep your employees motivated is by always giving them something new. So provide them with the fresh resources to involve themselves in innovative activities.

So make sure you have groomed your employees to hold hands with you for the innovation journey. And realize that it is a continuous effort. You need to consistently use innovation as a tool to affect each and every aspect of your business operations.

That wraps up my 3 favorite ways to leverage innovation to enhance productivity. What type of innovation do you apply in your business. Share your response in the comments section. Also, feel free to share any interesting thought around the topic.

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