Talk of innovation is cheap, but it could be worth stacks
by Tom Keighley
‘Innovation’ is a stalwart of the buzzword pallet. The term now frequently inspires groans of scepticism, but the often derided term came to mean something for me recently.
A trip to the recent ‘Return on Innovation’ conference in Newcastle brought the term to life, real life. Previously I’d found talk of innovation to be cheap - after all, how many stretched businesses can employ real time and energies into pure creation?
Speaker Professor Roy Sandbach - a former leader of Procter and Gamble’s global innovation programmes - surmised that innovation is “about matching what’s possible with what’s needed.” A neat definition that forgoes naff stock images of robots and 50s pictures of hovering cars.
The bill of top flight speakers at the conference - ranging from Google Creative Labs lead Steve Vranakis to management educator Eddie Obeng - all made one common point: deciding what should be innovated is difficult.
Getting consensus is not easy to achieve when it comes to this stuff. Fear of failure is a double edged sword - as Ignite100 director Paul Smith and entrepreneur Emma Collingwood so astutely pointed out. Get scared of failure and you never innovate, but accepting failure is not healthy.
It dawned on me that Bdaily has been executing many of the key tenets of innovation, talked about by these world class experts.
We’re a small organisation, and that lends itself well to creating an environment in which people are encouraged to have ideas. Cheesy, perhaps, but true. The dynamic fosters a focus on value. Input from each ‘department’ of the business, from sales through finance and editorial, means we can quickly evaluate the ‘return on innovation’ value.
Often we take statistical evidence and make iterative changes to Bdaily, in other cases a team member has that lightbulb moment and we make a rapid change. If it works, we build on it, and if it flops, we get rid of it. Along the way we always measure - and that means measuring everything from effectiveness of headlines via click-through, right up to year-on-year traffic growth. Anecdotal feedback also gets the empirical once-over to help us stay informed.
Like all businesses we feel the pressures of day-to-day workload including sales, sourcing and creating content, and maintenance of our digital space. But, between the in-tray tasks we always find time to innovate. Ultimately, it’s the demands of those day-to-day tasks that drive our innovation and our search for better solutions.