When it comes to innovation, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. “Innovation inside” can be more powerful than even the flashiest of new product ideas – especially in today’s business environment.
While some companies are cutting funding for innovation projects during the economic downturn, others are turning to internal innovation to help them improve efficiency, cut costs,
, and even generate funds for external growth initiatives.
Daryl Dunbar, SVP of Innovation for Reed Elsevier, puts it this way: “The current economy gives us an opportunity to focus innovation not only on new products and services, but on all the other facets of innovation, such as efficiency, cost saving, process, business model, and my latest favorite, management innovation.”
To fully embrace “innovation inside,” companies must train employees to think differently and recognize both internal and external innovation opportunities. Barbara Daniele, SVP & General Counsel for GE Capital Americas, says she’s always looking for “a new way to do the same thing, maybe faster, cheaper, easier.” Her group has held internal innovation challenges to get employees to carefully examine ways to innovate. Often, this leads to incremental breakthroughs that would otherwise be overlooked. “Some of these projects we call Nike projects—it’s “Just Do It,” she says. “They’re quite simple. They don’t require any money, but maybe they make a contract simpler. Maybe they take out two or three steps in a process.”
How are you embracing innovation inside?