What is Sustainable Innovation?

Forbes describes corporate innovation as “having out-of-the-box thinking as a strategy within your business”. Any business looking to make it in the long term needs to innovate to keep up with an ever-changing market. Often, innovation occurs in response to changes in their customers or customer needs, their competitors, as well as the tech and methodology that’s available.

However, the concept that innovation is a “one and done” process, that you simply need to implement one idea and then you’re good to go, is an outdated belief. This is why many, instead, aim for a model of sustainable innovation. The process of sustainable innovation is designed to be continuous, to offer ongoing reflection on your products, services, methods, and how you organize your team to constantly search for points of improvement.

Sustainable innovation is about staying flexible and staying on the move

Innovation nowadays is more important than ever, and no one denies it. Instead, 84% of executives confirm that innovation is important to their growth strategy.

In a fast-paced business world, it's not wise for a company to remain stagnant if it wants to stay relevant. As such, innovation should be ongoing, rapid, and agile. Sustainable innovation can help your team overcome the fear of sharing ideas that won't work.

Research shows that 95% of business innovations will fail. One goal of sustainable innovation is to not avoid falling into that 95%, but it is about failing, killing ideas early, and trying often enough. In order to get to those successful innovations, it’s essential for teams to acclimate to the process of sharing ideas, even if they fail.


Sustainable innovation is better for your team

The biggest asset for innovation is your employees. They are the ones who are going to help you generate, refine, and carry out ideas aimed at improving the business and, as such, it’s a requirement that you know how to make the best use of this asset.

Not only does sustainable innovation allow you to be more flexible, agile, and constantly aware of the forces that you could benefit from adapting to, but it can be much better for your team, too. Innovation, when done in the traditional manner, often crunches employees, a necessity to complete the project. 

Up to 84% of millennials feel burnout at work and, what’s more, 79% of employees quit due to a lack of appreciate. This is what makes the traditional model of innovation unsustainable, by comparison.


Models of sustainable innovation

Sustainable innovation focuses on making innovation part of the company culture to the point that it becomes a part of the team’s routine work, not a full-scale project that grinds down their motivation and productivity. One example is how Atlassian allows employees 24 hours to work on anything they want once a quarter. 

Offer your team the freedom to pursue the innovation that they can spy the potential for, and they can end up generating some very productive and helpful ideas. After all, they will identify the pain points in processes, products, and services they’re familiar with that others may not be fully aware of.

Bottom-up innovation has supported countless companies like Swisscom. By implementing the Kickbox method, they were able to empower their employees to become intrapreneurs and take ownership of their ideas.

Tools like KICKBOX allow you to foster an environment of bottom-up innovation, and make it much easier to access the ideas that your employees might want to share. By making innovation faster, more agile, and failure less of a cost, sustainable innovation can transform how your business utilizes its most important asset: your employees.

rready has been helping medium to large organizations change the face of their businesses with the intrapreneurial power of our KICKBOX program. We've supported over 4000 employees to validate, test, and improve their ideas through innovation management as a service and coaching. Only a culture that consistently values ideas and creativity will continuously produce bottom-up innovation. If you're rready to impact your business for the better, contact us today.

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