It is important to know how to innovate and solve problems in business. I thought I would write some little lessons that might help people starting businesses, or trying to problem solve in established ones. There is one key ingredient people always ignore and I have had these conversations a hundred times… With problem solving, every problem has a solution, and quite often there are several ways around the issue or opportunities to avoid it in the first place. This is obvious. But often the key is knowledge and experience – therefore, the key must be people!
We keep having people phoning and emailing us to sell stuff!
A common theme I have found, is that businesses stick to their own staff for solutions, to such an extent that they are shutting out so many new ways of thinking and working. If your team spends all their time internally, and only researches their own industry and competitors, where exactly do new ideas and views come from? Well, there is one fairly constant supply, but the amount of businesses that stop new ideas coming through the doors is scandalous. How many times have you heard the following statement?
Yes, they are trying to make a living just like you are; but they are also transporting new information to your front door for free! Why on earth would you close it on them? Just manage them efficiently, but let new ideas in regularly. They probably know things that you don’t. And by the way, Directors and CEO’s, I’m talking to you. Some of your managers are forever shutting out valuable new ideas! Trust me, I was once on the receiving end of idea-blocking and now I see it all the time from the inside of different firms… Until I mention it of course!
Every business needs to be kept fresh or it loses its edge, so: –
- Let in new ideas from wherever you can (sub-contractors bring lots, they see more behind the curtains in your industry than you do)
- Make sure your team are looking and learning beyond your industry (sometimes just beyond their desk would be a start)
- Make sure your team knows they don’t have all the answers (they shouldn’t be expected to either, but they do need to always be developing and growing)
- Maintain outsider help, especially when you don’t think you need it! (This is normally when sales are up and everyone is skipping and jumping along the profit margin)
- If you think your business is good at finding and opening up to new ideas, ask someone (who will give you an honest answer) if they see your business that way… you might not get the feedback you want. Therefore, time for a change
Basically, admit to yourself there is always more to learn and better ways of doing what you think you have nailed down. No-one has their business perfect, and remember, it’s an amazing feeling each time you are enlightened to improvements!