By Melissa Cleveland, Strategic Marketing Manager, W.O.M. World of Medicine USA, Inc.
Innovation seems to be the “buzz word” in boardrooms across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. So what are the important elements of innovation and why is it critical for company growth?
For W.O.M., with headquarters based in Berlin, Germany and subsidiaries in the U.S. and Asia, it is vital to have an innovation process that is clearly defined. As a global full service OEM provider of medical devices for minimally invasive medicine, innovation involves every employee in all countries. This can be challenging, although very possible, due to technology, communication and set processes. Here are some questions and answers that help us understand this better:
Why should you have an innovation process?
Anyone within a company can have that “Ah ha!” moment. However, if there is not a process in place, ideas often do not get shared or documented. A platform needs to be in place with clearly defined goals and steps.
Use your Innovation Manager: WOM’s Innovation Manager is responsible for the process, including moderating online idea sharing and analyzing the feedback. The manager also works to integrate innovation into the company culture. Innovation is part of the company strategy.
Where do ideas come from?
In the ever-changing field of minimally invasive medicine, ideas often stem from identified trends. For example, trends might be based on technologies, indications, or changing healthcare legislations. Ideas may also be about improving an existing process, internal and/or external or a service activity. Each company must define its own goals, methods and priorities for future growth through innovation.
Create an Innovation Scout: WOM also has an Innovation Scout. This person searches and analyzes new technology trends and ideas inside and outside of medical technology. Industries such as automotive or consumer electronics may provide insight into general trends that will affect medical technology in the future. The scout will also support and challenge the internal idea generation and idea campaign from the technical point of view.
WOM has defined innovation as a new idea that may help to accomplish the following:
- Creates or increases value
- Solves an end-user problem
- Solves a customer problem
- Solves an internal problem
- Fits in with corporate strategy
There are good versus bad ideas.
It is important to consider all ideas as being viable in the early stage. Criticism of an idea is unavoidable, as this is what helps to decipher between one that is unviable and one that should move forward. Innovation also involves some risk. The motto “time is money” rings true to any business in all parts of the world. Therefore, gathering feedback quickly and efficiently, and testing critical assumptions early in the process will save both time and money.
How do you inspire participation by all employees?
Once an innovation plan is in place, it is important to brand the process internally for all employees – include a logo, tagline, brochure, etc. Schedule an official kick-off event for all locations and be prepared to outline and explain the process fully. Include an exercise to encourage creativity and teamwork. Encouraging innovation should be an enjoyable process.
WOM’s innovation process is known as WOM InnoHub. Our brand and processes are well defined and all tools are in place. When an InnoHub campaign is initiated with an idea, the process begins and someone’s “Ah Ha!” moment is realized by all company employees.
How does innovation equal company growth?
As with all company goals, there needs to be a process. The innovation process will make ideas flow, yet it will also streamline the best ideas so they are not lost or forgotten. Most importantly, innovation is the exploitation of these ideas. This is a creative process that results in company growth through improved productivity, cost reductions, new products or services and anything that results in being more competitive in the marketplace. If you do not have an innovation process, it may be time to move from a random innovation method to a true innovation process to call your own.
Melissa Cleveland is the Strategic Marketing Manager for W.O.M. World of Medicine USA, Inc. For more information on the company, visit http://www.world-of-medicine.com/en.html