Published 21. Feb. 2017
Innovation is About Finding an Important Problem and Solving It
For Olle Alvemark, Scandinavia Industry Director at IFS, one of the main drivers of innovation should be problem solving.
“Looking at our market and our customers we see a shift towards growth as the main driver for innovation,” shares IFS’ Olle Alvemark, “Even as cost savings and productivity are still important, companies now look to innovation to help them grow and stay in business for a long time.”
Growing means learning, and one of the trends today is instead of starting innovation with the newest technology, organizations start with a problem to solve, “Begin with one important question, followed by, ‘How do we get the answer to this?’ One initiative that we have is IFS LABS. It enable us to explore and implement new value to our customers.”
In order to create value, there has to be an understanding of the different stakeholders’ problems and drives, “Co-ops has created some of the most important innovations ever, but sometimes the projects tend to be too big to handle, so it might be a good idea not to scale a project until you can see the value. To start small and create a minimum viable product to test might be the better idea.”
Doing it Like the Startups
In Alvermark’s observation, many startups have a very strong vision and they are able to change and adapt, but still keep the drive, “Established companies need to understand that change is good and that you are allowed to change as long as the value to customer is in focus. New companies often do not survive more than a few months if they don’t deliver customer value – which is a pretty powerful adaptation driver.”
Take the soon to be legendary innovation disruptors Airbnb and Uber, “They will probably still be used as examples for a time, but new innovations will come for sure. Artificial intelligence is fast approaching and we’re already seeing examples like IBM Watson. The possibilities around AI are huge and we will surely see new products, solutions, and services around it that will change the way we live and work.”
Innovation Starter Kit
The Industry Director also enumerated three innovation musts:
- Agility – In terms of managing the change that comes with innovation, “We like the word Agile. We’re early adapters of the method for development, but it’s also how we want our software to be – things tend to change over time and to implement continuous small changes often wins over making big changes, let’s say every 10 years. To be able to change and adapt is key in today’s market.”
- Empowerment – On a key leadership tool in fostering innovation across functions and in all levels, “I like to talk about empowerment as important for both our customers and our own organization. We need to find KPIs and goals that support inspiration and innovation. If you only give people a small box to work with, you can’t expect anything outside the box. If you are able to show the bigger challenges within your company’s business, you might get people come up with great new innovations. For more on the topic, read: What’s the link between innovation and company performance?“
- Technology – As for the role of new technologies, “Tech is important but it’s not everything. You really need to solve a problem and move towards growth or efficiency. Just a cool gadget with no purpose will not suffice anymore, there needs to be real value added.”
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