Entrepreneurship and innovation often go hand in hand. Individuals who possess strong entrepreneurial skills are often prime candidates for driving innovation, whether that means going it alone or applying these skills internally within an organisation. Likewise, innovation in products and processes is an essential component of entrepreneurship, particularly if you are going to make your offering stand out from the crowd and be competitive in a crowded marketplace.
So how can you ensure that your entrepreneurial skills and innovation strategy go hand in hand and achieve positive results? Here are three things you should know so you can foster entrepreneurship and innovation as part of your organisational culture.
1. PROBLEM-SOLVING SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF YOUR ORGANISATION
One trait that both entrepreneurs and innovators have in common is that they put problem-solving at the heart of their approach to everything. At their core, both innovation and entrepreneurship require problem-solving skills, for example the capacity to spot flaws in the current ways of working and then generate creative solutions based on these observations.
According to an article by Entrepreneur.com, ‘entrepreneurship […] is primarily about finding solutions for challenging problems that exist.’ Likewise, ‘innovation is the key to finding solutions and lies at the core of every successful enterprise that we read, hear and study about.’
Problem-solving should therefore be a central element of a culture of innovation, so how can you go about putting problem solving at the heart of your organisation? For McKinsey&Company, a good place to start is by creating a number of problem-solving lenses called “flexons,” each of which looks at the problem at hand from the point of view of networks, information-processing, evolution or decision-agents. McKinsey believes this problem-solving approach can ‘help turn chaos into order by representing ambiguous situations and predicaments as well-defined, analysable problems of prediction and optimization’ and to ‘consider situations in all their complexity.’
2. YOU NEED A HEALTHY DOSE OF OPTIMISM
It perhaps goes without saying that entrepreneurism and innovation require a certain amount of optimism, as it is this that drives entrepreneurs and innovators alike to go against the grain of convention, to believe in an idea and to have the motivation to carry it through to fruition. Yet how do you know when optimism needs to be checked with realism? When does the ability to tolerate risk need to be balanced with calculation and an ability to say no?
One example of this is a quote attributed to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Bezos pointed out that
‘the common question that gets asked in business is, 'why?' That's a good question, but an equally valid question is, 'why not?'”
It is this “why not” approach to trialling new ideas, imagining solutions and keeping the end in sight that is a must for any individual or organisation seeking to employ entrepreneurship and innovation. Yet the quote is equally valid as a tool for judging when no amount of optimism is going to result in success. If the answers to “why not” outweigh the reasons in favour of continuing, it’s time to reassess your innovative or entrepreneurial idea.
3. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
When discussing innovation, it is easy to think of those innovations that have led to technological developments we now take for granted, such as smartphones or social media. Yet in much the same way that innovation fuels technological development, technology can be used to generate new and exciting opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.
According to Entrepreneur.com contributor, Jonathan Long, cryptocurrency and blockchain show no sign of slowing down and are in fact resulting in a ‘rush to create innovative business solutions that are faster, more secure and more transparent.’ Long argues that ‘blockchain is already contributing to real-world improvements in the world of entrepreneurship,’ from an increased availability of entrepreneurial education options to crowdfunding and user-friendly financial tools.
By establishing which of these technologies can aid and assist in your drive for entrepreneurship and innovation, you can buy in to useful tools that allow you to focus your energies on the decisions that matter. Whether that means safely storing client data, learning new skills or managing your money, technology should be a tool employed in your daily strategy and embedded in your innovation culture.
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