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Typically it has been understood that brainstorming is the ideal method to elicit business innovation. However, recent research into the same has uncovered the fact that such a session involving members from disparate groups may not be the best method as conventional wisdom would have us believe. Rather deep expertise into the topic of discussion is a must. This is not possible when there is too much of diversity. Most organizations are talking about how processes must be in place in order to generate innovation at workplace. For this thorough R & D is needed. However, most firms are ignoring the R and focusing purely on getting the final results for the D.

Business innovation is no longer an option for organizations to move up the ladder. It is now in fact a necessity simply to survive. It is the best way to ward of ruthless competition of the times. Also due to increased globalization, it has become quite easy for established firms to spread their wings, and thus the only way to survive is to develop something unique. Consumers are now increasingly more demanding than ever before. Technology has meant that on the one hand there are greater tools to exploit, but on the other, easier for competitors to take a leap. It has become imperative to use Big Data applications to get best understanding of market needs and conditions. Recruitment and people management challenges are much greater today due to evolving demographics and greater diversity in terms of ethnicity. That is where innovative companies which will figure out a way to best utilize this work pool, will be in a position to excel. Existing technologies also enable us to change the way work is conducted, as younger employees as well as consumers are using mobile phones to work, take decisions and execute final purchases.

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer has long been seen as a firm which embraces business innovation. However, ensuring a culture of sustainable innovation across such a large firm is in itself a challenge. Even CEOs struggle to implement such cultures in case inherently not existing. One of the ways to succeed at it is to involve outsiders. While developing helmets for astronauts NASA took advice from jumbo truckers as they experience similar G forces during their travails. Bayer has always taken business consulting advice from academicians. David Shrier is one of those academicians having earlier worked with the likes of Walt Disney, Ernst & Young, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and GE/NBC Universal. Another unusual industry to include within Bayer’s innovation panel is energy from where the CEO of Harvest Power joins them. That is one industry which, faced with climate change concerns has been innovating faster than most while at the same time, having to deal with several levels of government regulatory authorities.

Business research conducted by the Forbes magazine has identified some strategies organizations use to excel at business innovation. Organizations must be clear about the various types of innovations that are being attempted to develop. The most talented people at various firms must be encouraged to excel rather than be constrained or bullied. Incentives and measuring metrics must be re-aligned away from corporate strategy to individual level goals. Employees must be provided with complete support to make sure they get a tilt at implementing their ideas. Finally, within firms, there must be micro-spots or markets were innovations may be tested before being launched or rejected.

Some apps exist which are ideal to spark off business innovation within organizations. The first one of these which is a free app is Unstuck. This one helps the user move in the right direction using series of prompts and tips to form a plan. Then there is Brainsparker which involves over two hundred prompts, images, quotes, words and suggestions for creative exercises. The Brainstomer aids writers in their search for words, plots, characters and storylines by Gamification of the content. Inflow can help plot ideas for non-linear thinkers. Finally there is Oflow which is an idea organizer and helps taking notes in one place before exporting the content to email, Evernote or social media.

Business innovation is no longer an option, but something organizations need to regularly execute in order to simply survive. However, ideating innovations without actually implementing them is of no practical use. Innovations fall within three broad categories. First of all there exist the “Big Ideas” which are groundbreaking innovations to disrupt the market. Then there are “People Aspects” which look into ways to get the best out of existing personnel and to excel at the art of talent management 1 Finally there is the “Process” which looks into various ways to actually implement the good ideas. The process must involve steps- ideate, align, repeat. In this way, the ideas get aligned to the actual work environment.

Global healthcare giant Sanofi is one organization known for its business innovation and its constant surge to give best results. Dr. Tal Rapke who is the Innovation Director at Sanofi says that for the firm, the biggest challenge is not the external environment or competitors, but the company structure itself. Due to the largeness of the firm, communication structures have become complicated and it is difficult to implement innovations without hassle. However, Dr. Rapke himself is a believer in the startup culture and in lean management principles. The idea is to start early, so failures can be detected at an early stage and rectifications can be made accordingly. However, corporate training programmes aimed at innovation often fail primarily due to the focus on short term gains and this has got to change. The design thinking approach has now been integrated and it is a much more holistic look at operations than earlier models.

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