In highly competitive environments, the need to innovate and bring new and enhanced digital products and services to market is critical for businesses to succeed.
But what is innovation? People often think about innovation as something wholly new and ground-breaking that’s never been done before. Sometimes, innovation is that big, happen-in-a-light-bulb moment. More often, innovation comes from a series of observations, ideas, continuous feedback, and reiteration over a period of time that all contribute to solving a problem.
Stefan Mursa, Product Owner and Delivery Manager at Xoomworks Technology, shares his top five recommendations for successful product innovation.
1. Empower individuals to challenge the status quo
For innovation to flourish, you need to create the right culture. A culture where every team member, irrespective of hierarchy, feels like they have some level of autonomy and the freedom to think independently and find solutions to problems, new ways of doing things and challenge the status quo. Leaders need to positively encourage innovation by ensuring their team members have the space and capacity to innovate.
2. Create open communication channels to drive collaboration
Innovation can’t happen in a vacuum. It’s about creating open communication channels that facilitate the exchange of ideas, feedback, coordination, and collaboration. It’s the ability to allow ideas to combine with new perspectives from cross-functional teams and external players that drives true innovation.
In an innovative development team, the way forward or solution to a problem should not be dictated by the product owner or team leader; every team member, irrespective of seniority, should be encouraged to contribute and be heard.
3. Encourage action on ideas
To create a true culture of innovation, leaders must be willing to encourage action on ideas, instead of producing a never-ending list of conceptual ideas that never come to fruition. This doesn’t mean to say that every idea is a great one and should go into prototyping; ideas need to be discussed and weighed up by the team in order to agree the best way forward. An informed decision needs to be made based on user needs, customer input and technical effort required.
4. Understand that failing is okay
Successful product innovation will not come without failure, yet most people are terrified of failure and its consequences. It’s therefore important that leaders encourage their teams to embrace failure and more importantly, reflect and learn from those mistakes.
5. Keep an open mindset
According to Stefan, the most important consideration when it comes to successful innovation is to keep an open mindset. It’s easy for product owners and developers to fall into the trap of totally believing in their idea and thinking it’s the best solution that everyone will need. Successful innovators don’t get too attached to their own ideas and are open to feedback from others, including team members and more importantly, end users.
Instead of making assumptions about what customers need and the solution to their problems, involve them in the process as early as possible and be willing and open to changing direction based on their feedback.
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