Season 5: Innovating for impact

Leading with innovation, Jorge Bestard
Part 2 of 4

Innovation as a tool for business growth

A big part of fuelling innovation within your business lies in establishing a robust foundation. This foundation not only supports the core functions of your organization, but enables a strategic and efficient allocation of resources, laying the groundwork for successful innovative endeavours.

In this part of the masterclass, we’ll uncover what that integral foundation should look like, and how to implement it from the get-go. As once in place, it will really allow your business to thrive.

A solid foundation acts like a sturdy house

In the realm of innovation, the importance of a robust foundation cannot be overstated. Innovation flourishes on stability; and relies on a well-established business framework to provide the basis for creative exploration. It is within this “sturdy house” that inventive minds can push boundaries and delve into new areas, with the assurance that their work is supported by a solid foundation. In other words, they are not risking the business.

It’s important for growing businesses to provide an environment for their team where fundamental operational functions are securely established. This, in turn, provides a stable platform for employees to experiment, take risks and explore novel ideas – all essential parts of business growth, development and innovation.

How do you know if your “house” can withstand the test of time?

With operational functions streamlined and optimized, businesses can redirect their focus towards other areas and not get bogged down with disorganized or loosely run operations.

Once you have a strong foundation, more attention can be brought to other business goals, such as research and development or investing in the new technologies, talent and processes that drive innovation and set the stage for future success.

It can also open a door into a whole different culture for your teams. Somewhere there is more room to foster a culture for creative minds to experiment, take risks and explore novel ideas. But it’s not just about what’s happening on the inside: the commitment to a strong foundation extends beyond the internal workings of a company and involves actively engaging with external factors, anticipating industry trends and staying attuned to the evolving needs of the market. This outward focus ensures that the foundation remains adaptable and responsive to the dynamic nature of the business landscape.

Now it’s time to build

Just as houses are remodelled, modernised and renovated, businesses can sometimes need the same attention. This doesn’t mean that the overall mission of a company needs to adapt; but it’s important to always be observant and open to change if early processes become outdated, or just aren’t right. Being innovative means being open to constantly changing and adapting.

For example, I like to have a recurring meeting or session where I take time to engage with my direct reports to check in on the basics. Together we do a quick audit (I keep these meetings short as we all know what a drain recurring meetings can be!) on what processes are performing well, and what needs to be adjusted; which services need updating, and more broadly, if internal teams are set up to meet success, or workstreams need to be reconfigured.

As a first exercise, I’d like you to look at the foundations or setup of your own business or the company you work for. Think to yourself: have I got everything I need in place? Have I got the right people around me and set up the right processes? Does the team structure work for my employees? What do I wish I could spend less time doing, and how could that be achieved?

Can you identify two areas of your business that you believe need attention, and can you organize a check in with those colleagues as a first step to understand if they have everything they need to deliver on their goals? Start with two areas and next month, add another two. Keep check-in meetings slotted in your calendar so that you can track progress.

This reflection is instrumental in identifying strengths and/or areas that may need reinforcement, setting the stage for a resilient and adaptable business.

Before you know it, you’ll have regular meetings with colleagues and teams within your organization, where you’ll be able to understand the basic foundations of your business clearly and see what needs to be changed or updated to ensure your house is fit for success. And ready to innovate.