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Does your business have the structure it needs to innovate?

Does your business have the structure it needs to innovate?

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By matt ·
November 06 2015

Does your business have the structure it needs to innovate?

Here's a question you might not have asked yourself lately: Is your business set up correctly for innovation?

Does your business have the structure it needs to innovate?
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You might have been considering the ways in which you can improve your processes and services, but the manner in which you organise your human and capital resources is what will ultimately make or break your efforts.

So how do you go about setting up your business structure for innovation?

It's all about how effectively and ingeniously you organise and align your talent and your assets.

This is known as structural innovation, and it's reflected in: The people you hire, the office you work in, and the structure of your teams.

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Anyone can plant the seeds for innovation, but in order for it to grow and thrive, the environment has to be just right.

Empowering your staff to be innovative is critical. But the way in which you organise your staff, their workloads and their team environments is also vital.

Google is famous for succeeding at creating an innovative work environment and empowering its staff with its "80/20 time" where they used to allow their engineers to spend 20 per cent of their time on 'side-projects'.

Amazingly Gmail, Google maps, Adsense, Google Talk and many other products were born from this scheme. Estimates suggest that Adsense alone is responsible for around 25 percent of Google's annual revenue.

If this isn't proof that empowering your staff to innovate and try new ideas will lead to greater overall success, I don't know what is.

Are you giving your staff the time and space to express their innovative ideas?

As well as creating a culture that nurtures your employee's ideas, you have to organise your assets and equipment in such a way that they are able to be used efficiently by your staff to achieve innovation.

You need to empower your staff to innovate. Resources have to be accessible to staff so that they can use them to express their ideas and talents in a way that is supported by your business leaders to encourage innovation and success.

Toyota is famous for their 'kaizen' continuous improvement philosophy - which looks to continually improve all functions and involve all employees from the chief executive to the assembly line workers.

The word 'kaizen' translates literally from Japanese to 'improvement', but it is used to describe improvements in work processes and personal efficiencies.

Keep this concept in mind and think about what you can do in your business to find out how you can encourage innovative thought throughout all levels of your company.

And, remember that although advances in technology and processes can have a drastic impact on a business, innovation isn't always sparked by a dramatic change or upgrade in technology.

Improving business functions could be achieved by changing something so seemingly simple that it may have been overlooked for a long time - like moving setting up an 'innovation inbox' where staff can submit their ideas to be considered by the leadership team.

Or even by giving staff access to coffee and tea facilities in the office so they don't have to walk to a café when they need their mid-morning caffeine boost - this will encourage team discussion and allow staff to learn what others throughout the business are working on.

Facilitating exchanges of knowledge and ideas by creating something as simple as a place for conversation over a cup of coffee could be a small effort that creates a huge impact on your business.

How to get started with your structure innovation.

At netwealth, we have been so inspired by the success initiatives like Google's 80/20 time that we have been working to improve our organisation's structure for innovation.

In fact, we're holding our first annual company-wide 'hackathon' which encouraged team members from across the business to submit their ideas on how netwealth can innovate. Out of all of the ideas received from around the business, eight were chosen via a multi-layered voting and selection process to be worked on over a period of 48 hours on October 29 and 30, 2015.

The project selection process was extremely democratic, which meant that the ideas that were thought of as being the best for the broader group were the ones that made it into 'production' - to my own disappointment, the idea submitted by the joint managing director (yes, that's me) didn't make it to the round of finalists in the competition.

Some truly exciting ideas were shared from every area of the business, and the exercise is bringing together people from teams who may not otherwise work with each other - which not only inspires innovation, but strengthens our overall team culture for a better-connected and more efficient business.

I'm happy that we've taken these steps to improve on our own structure innovation to facilitate the development of our staff's business improvement ideas. I'm looking forward to seeing our business follow through on the culture of innovation and teamwork that is sparked from our hackathon.

We're committed to enabling and encouraging staff to improve our products, processes and resources they use to do better work - and I hope you can find a way to do the same in your own office.

If you're interested in learning more about innovation and how you can start making changes in your business, download our free eBook about how to innovate in a world of digital disruption.


8980_transformMatt Heine is the joint managing director of netwealth

 

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