Talking with Chamber members at one of our networking events, the subject of innovation cropped up.
We got around to wondering what the ‘next big thing’ to assist our business would be. It seemed like we didn’t have any immediate answers.
So, going back to basics, I looked up the Oxford Dictionary definition of innovation which is “the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something”. That suggests to me that an innovation can be large or small, as long as it delivers something new.
I believe that the key to an innovation is the development of an existing application or process that ultimately saves time, money, and resources; and, so, adds to overall productivity, (which I return to in a future column). Many of the best innovations make small steps forward with their ‘incremental improvements’, but the combined effects can be highly significant – both commercially and operationally.
I have discovered that some of the best innovations improve on what already exists with a straightforward and practical solution. In that context, using the KISS principle – ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ – pays important dividends. The sort of innovation could be a new way of invoicing or billing, purchasing a service from a utility provider, or implementing a new IP phone system with integration with your office systems, which allows you to improve customer service and capture all sales opportunities.
Around Burton, we have many innovative companies, and several immediately spring to mind – Clinigen, Reabrook, FMC, and Greenbank Group. They have been recognised for their innovations, winning business awards and achieving wider recognition.
Being local they provide significant inspiration to other businesses in Burton. They powerfully illustrate what can be achieved from investing some time and effort into devising a ‘new way of doing things around here’.
In my experience, some of the best innovative ideas come from the shop floor. I certainly encourage that at Yee Group. It is a successful way of developing and introducing new ideas and applying them within an expanding business.
If after reading this Column, you would like your Chamber to organise an event dedicated to Innovation, then do let me know. If there are particular questions at the front of your mind, then why not also raise them when you get in touch. Your particular issues, and sharing them with others, could form the basis for an extremely interesting event.
Armed with your innovation, it is often difficult to decide how to tell the world about it. Even if from your perspective, it is only a small improvement, it will have a commercial value. Isn’t that why you spent time and effort developing it in the first place?
I am convinced that many of our Chamber members have introduced new processes and practices; but, with the day-to-day pressures of running a business, may have missed out on opportunities to tell their customers or clients.
One simple way to grow customer awareness for your innovation, (when you are ready to go public with the details), is through the monthly Chamber Link magazine; the daily emailer from the Chamber Group team in Birmingham; and the regular weekly newssheet produced in the Chamber’s Cannock Offices.
The teams producing each of these publications will be pleased to receive information on your innovation; and delighted to learn more about what it has and continues to contribute to your business. A photograph showing your innovation in use makes for a very good story.
I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]
President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce
Managing Director, Yee Group Limited