Category Archives: Suggestion Box

Research Towards Innovation

It is said that the more you know, the more that you can do with what you know.  That’s why using research to breed innovation is essential for your business. 

A corporate Research & Development department is an extremely important resource, but they typically tend to focus on near-term and short-term opportunities:  The day to day improvements, the launch of a new product, the “low-hanging” fruit, as it were.   A true research strategy involves a long-term approach and commitment to understanding the ways your market will change over time.  In other words, putting research into practice means looking into the future, well beyond your current business model, to find new ways to impact slow and steady growth.  This may require road-mapping your business according to new ideas, expert projections, and sometimes even major paradigm shifts.

Unfortunately, research such as this can be both expensive and difficult to perform.  Many companies in this economy have been forced to cut spending in every department, and usually one of the first to be affected is the research team.   However, a shortsighted decision to save money now by axing research, may truly hurt your business in the long run.

Research does not have to be a huge expense, though.  Customer Feedback is an excellent way to gather information, discover trends, and predict the future of your industry.  Managed efficiently, it can provide an enormous competitive advantage.   By staying in touch with your customers’ wants and needs, you can find out a great deal of knowledge that can be practically applied to your business. 

Acquiring feedback can be as simple as launching a web-based tool like Flagpole.  Flagpole deploys quickly and creates an easy-to-use sharing ground for ideas and suggestions from your customers.  You can directly ask them all the questions you need answered by issuing challenges.  Your employees can also participate by submitting their own answers and ideas, and by voting and commenting on those received from your customers.  This will begin to build strong and meaningful interactions between your company and your user community.  What you gather from these interactions and ideas will undoubtedly help you predict where your market is heading, and where your company needs to be to stay ahead.

To learn more about Flagpole, or to sign up for a completely free version, visit: http://www.flagpole-software.com/price.htm

Stakeholders in your Organization Have Great Ideas – Just Ask Them!

It has been said that 80% of the solutions to your company’s problems already exist in the minds of your employees.  Why not ask them?

By implementing a friendly, easy-to-use and interactive space on the web for collecting and nurturing ideas, you will realize a whole new way of solving issues.  Who better to offer ideas and suggestions to your company’s most perplexing issues than the folks who work with your organization and product every day? Employees, Customers, Business Partners, Suppliers, Experts – they all have great ideas and they will love telling you (and each other) about them.  It’s called “crowd-sourcing your innovation” and it works!

Flagpole Software can help you solicit suggestions and ideas for new products, business improvements, better processes, cost savings, waste reduction, new markets/projects, and just about any other type of innovation, incremental or break-through, your company needs to find.  Additionally, by allowing your users to comment and vote on each other’s submissions, you can help reduce the resources needed to find and review new bits of innovation.

Get in touch with Flagpole today and try our new cost-effective web solutions for crowd-sourcing ideas. We even have a free version that can get you started in minutes.

It’s All About the Customer

A driving force behind innovation is the customer. They are clearly in control of the buying and selling process. How can your business adapt to their needs and provide solutions for them?

If you simply listen to your existing and potential customers, you can get good insight as to if your product or service will be a success or a failure. You can also find out how much they want to pay, if they will give you repeat business and if they will recommend it to their friends. Their likes and dislikes can help us shape what we offer into what they really want.

If you take customer feedback seriously, we can adapt our business to fit their needs more closely. Their feedback can also help in the development of new goods or services or may offer new ideas on how to use or adapt your existing products.

Customer feedback can be acquired through face to face meetings, phone calls, emails or online surveys. A customer feedback form can also be included in your products’ packaging for them to fill out and mail to you. (It is recommended that postage should be prepaid so that they will be more likely to send it in.)

Employee Involvement

Due to the financial set backs our world has been facing, many businesses have had to do more with fewer employees. The remaining employees may feel like they have to do more work after others were laid off and see no reward in doing so. Morale can be at an all time low. This can negatively affect your company’s bottom line and it also can increase turnover rates. Innovation is at a stand still.

In order to turn this around, it is important to encourage your employees to work together in a team environment to get the job done thus spreading the work out over everyone, making it easier for them to do their jobs.

For example, if in the past only a few people were responsible for closing the shop each night, have everyone work together to close each night. With this method, by including everyone, the responsibility is shared and no one is stuck doing an undesirable task. No one is left out of the process. It helps your employees feel included and that they are just as important as every other employee.

By focusing on increasing involvement and encouraging their commitment to your business, the relationship between employer and employee will improve thus helping your business succeed.

Great Idea, Now What?

Everything starts with a great idea. Now that you have it, what do you do with it and how will it help your business? If the idea looks like it will be easy to implement and won’t cost a lot in time and money, then an experiment is warranted.

After you begin your experiment, make sure that it can be flexible.  At different stages of implementation, take the time to step back and assess the idea and make changes if necessary. Setting specific goals to be accomplished can be your gauge to see if it’s a success or not.

Also make sure to listen to those involved in your experiment for suggestions on improving your idea.  A fresh set of eyes can sometimes see more clearly what is needed.

With your experiment, keep in mind that all of the information that you acquire, good or bad, is important. Use this information to decide if your idea is solving problems or creating new ones or (very important) if it helps or hurts your bottom line.

Knowing when to continue or quit an experiment is important for anyone looking for new ideas and innovations for their business.

Innovation through Customization

The word custom when used as an adjective gives the connotation of exclusivity and that it is special. If you have something customized for you, it has a stamp on it that says that it is you. This is why customization can be very appealing as a business innovation.

What if you started with a very good, basic product and asked your clients what they would like to add to it or how they would like to change it? This would open a dialog between you and your consumer that can help develop your products and services to fit their needs exactly and therefore ensuring future business.

A past slogan of Chrysler’s was “If you can dream it, we can build it.” Given the state of the car manufacturers right now, that slogan might not have really worked for them, however the sentiment is viable.

If you present consumers with a “can do” attitude and can offer them the ability to tell you what they would really want, it can increase your products or service’s desirability. Additionally, by making your customers feel like their needs are met and that what they have purchased from you is customized to their needs, you can get more business from their referrals.

It’s All About the Customer

A driving force behind innovation is the customer. They are clearly in control of the buying and selling process. How can your business adapt to their needs and provide solutions for them?

If you simply listen to your existing and potential customers, you can get good insight as to if your product or service will be a success or a failure. You can also find out how much they want to pay, if they will give you repeat business and if they will recommend it to their friends. Their likes and dislikes can help us shape what we offer into what they really want.

If you take customer feedback seriously, we can adapt our business to fit their needs more closely. Their feedback can also help in the development of new goods or services or may offer new ideas on how to use or adapt your existing products.

Customer feedback can be acquired through face to face meetings, phone calls, emails or online surveys. A customer feedback form can also be included in your products’ packaging for them to fill out and mail to you. (It is recommended that postage should be prepaid so that they will be more likely to send it in.)

Great Idea, Now What?

It all starts with an idea. Now that you have it, what do you do with it and how will it help your business? If this idea looks like that it will be easy to implement and does not cost a lot in time and money, an experiment is warranted.

After you begin your experiment, make sure that it can be flexible. At different stages of implementation, take the time to step back and assess the idea and make changes if necessary. Setting specific goals to be accomplished can be your gauge to see if it is a success or not.
Also make sure to listen to those involved in your experiment for any suggestions on improving your idea. A fresh set of eyes can sometimes see more clearly what is needed.

With your experiment, keep in mind that all of the information that you learn, good or bad, is important. Use this information to decide if your idea is solving problems or creating new ones or as we are all concerned about, if it helps or hurts your bottom line. Knowing when to continue or quit an experiment is important for anyone looking for new ideas and innovations for their business.

Nokia

Nokia has always been one of the most interesting companies to work for, as they have always been on the forefront of mobile phone innovation. More recently, the company has set up an intranet message board, known as the Blog-hub. This particular message board is especially noteworthy because of what it does, which is essentially gives disgruntled and unsatisfied employees the medium to basically flame their employers.

Under assumed aliases, the company lets their employees yell words of advice to the higher-ups, letting them know exactly how they feel. While this may not sound like a new practice, they turn these “flames” into money. Although revenue is down for the company, at a staggering 96%, they are pretty excited about the Blog-hub, as it has shaken up the company’s practices in a positive way.

To combat their lost ground on the mobile phone front (which is at 38%), the Nokia Company is defining innovation by letting their employees pitch their product ideas. But the question is, does this disgruntled griping work? Well, ask the employee who posed the question: “why do we always see gray styluses?” Nokia will start shipping styluses in all colors in a matter of a few months.

Innovation: The Importance of New Ideas

For a business to be genuinely successful, they will need a certain level of ingenuity. Although this usually goes without saying, there are businesses competing with the same targeted audience and the best are rapidly evolving. There are many businesses that stay afloat with this in mind and they are quickly changing the way that people think and redefining their business models to always stay ahead of the game.

The importance of innovation goes beyond this, as well. Innovation is something that can even change the way that an employee thinks about the position that they hold and in turn, will develop knew ways to streamline the business. These new ideas work from the ground up if implemented correctly and will influence the market to shift more in a particular business’ favor.

Innovation is something that may be a bit hard to achieve for some people if they are thinking about the concept as a whole. But if it were broken down piece by piece, examining just one aspect at a time, they will definitely find something that they can do differently than the competitor may not be doing, or doing wrong.