There is a nice post on About.com by Darrell Zahorsky on 7 Principles of Small Innovations. The insights are not new of course but are certainly a good and concise reminder as it’s easy in daily practice to focus on a few and accidentally ignore or demote the others! Here they are:
“1. Free Time: Time is a necessary resource for innovation. You don’t need a 25-hour day to solve your time resource problem. It’s simply a matter of clearing your business from the clutter of old time consuming practices, outdated technology, time wasting habits, and using outsourcing.
2. Collect Ideas: Innovative ideas can occur at any place or anytime. The best way to grab the small innovative ideas is not to discover them and think about it later. It’s too easy to forget or quickly rationalize that it’s too simple. Just carry around a small pocket notebook, a tape recorder, or a few sticky notes.
3. Look Outside: No matter how good an innovation is use not only the knowledge and skills within your business but outside resources to succeed including capital, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and strong relationships with suppliers.
4. Be Customer Centric: While applying innovation to your business, it’s easy to see the advantages from your perspective while missing the customers’ view. Big companies are notorious for innovating on the inside with innovations such as self-serve to time stressed customers. If the innovation makes you feel uncomfortable but delights the customer, you are probably on the right track.
5. Use All Types Of Innovation: Many of us think of small innovations as an improvement on an existing procedure, operation, or product. This form of innovation is linear and is often necessary to make your business better. But other forms of innovation exist such as the unexpected or simple innovation.
Small innovations can end up being a big innovation even when they appear simple at first. In 1998, Google’s founders were busy building the code for the search engine and needed a home page so they put up a simple page with lots of white space. This simple small innovation was instrumental to Google’s success and led to faster download times.
6. Ask the Right Questions: If you’re asking customers for feedback on your products and services you will get a few innovations around those features. To play the innovation game, ask the customer what their experience was like.
7. Make a Daily Habit: Innovation doesn’t often occur in a meeting or at a desired time. Small innovations occur at anytime and any place. Make it a daily practice to apply innovation to your small business and implement your best ideas.”