How To Encourage Innovation

There is an ongoing discussion on how to increase and encourage innovation. This is especially prevalent in the risk-averse Canadian healthcare space. In order for innovation to prosper in a marketplace, these conditions must prevail:

Understanding what innovation is

Innovation doesn't have to be a brand new technology or process, it could be an enhancement of something that already exists. By looking at the definition in a different way, it makes the activity of encouraging innovation easier to digest. Let's think about how we can make improvements. Some will be brand new and game-changing and others will be small improvements on what currently exists. Both are innovations.

Having a system that incents innovation

This requireds governments and industry organizations to create incentives for companies that innovate. These incentives could take the form of grants, funding, lower barriers to market access, tax credits or relief, or many other options. The key is that companies are incented to improve upon what is currently in the marketplace. This can also extend to those organizations that have the ability to discourage innovation-media, lobby groups, funders. These organizations often publicly punish organizations who are trying to innovate but may not have been successful, thus discouraging others from trying.

Having an appetite for risk

Organizations that are in the marketplace need to have an appetite for the risks required when chasing innovation. Not every innovation is going to be a success, so companies need to recognize this when embarking on an innovation. Listen to the marketplace, listen to customers and fulfill a current or future need to increase chances of developing successful innovations.

Developing a roadmap for success

Whenever you try to go from one place to another, you need a map to show you how to get there. Innovation is no different. What are the processes that need to be in place? What stakeholders need to support the initiative? What are the steps required to effectively develop, commercialize and implement new innovation? Without a common roadmap, organizations will falter at various stages by developing their own way of operating.

Understanding and taking the first step

One of the biggest roadblocks to new innovation is that organizations don't know where or how to start. To talk about innovation as a concept is a daunting task, so we need to break it up into manageable chunks. Understanding the first step in this initiative will go a long way to creating some forward momentum. Don't think of the whole journey, just think of one thing your organization can do to start the journey, then let the laws of physics take over (something in motion tends to stay in motion).

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