Explain the importance of innovation for own organisation

In the rapidly-changing environments characterising most industries and public sector organisations today, proficiency in the process of service innovation is necessary for organisational efficiency and increasing public sector value. Given that environmental change requires organisational adaptation, new service innovation models can be expected to appear in response to new challenging landscapes.

New products and services are the lifeblood of all businesses and organisations. Investing in their development isn’t an optional extra – it is crucial to service delivery and keeping the organisation safe and operational. However, embarking on the innovation process can be risky.

Careful planning and organisation awareness are required. Where there is a constant flow of new risks and service needs, a committee could be considered, so that each innovation idea can be reviewed on a regular basis. Decision makers and budget holders can then be engaged to commit resources to service development in a timely manner.

Most organisations will benefit from high efficiency and increased productivity. Identifying how to achieve these will benefit NHS Wales Informatics Services’ (NWIS) ability to be a leading force in Health Care Innovation. Innovation can help my organisation to work in new ways, be more productive and efficient, and help to produce new products and services.

What underpins a propensity to change and development is improvement. With improvement in place, more dynamic and radical change becomes possible opening up more opportunities for successful innovation and growth.

Businesses and organisations are continually striving for growth and better performance. Improvements come in a number of ways, through radical change, stepped change, through the influences of the external environment (dynamic change) and through continual improvement.

In today’s highly competitive environment, organisations recognise the need not only to provide quality products or services, but also to keep on increasing the quality of these products and services so that they exceed customers’ expectations. To accomplish this, organisations need to commit to a programme of continuous improvement, in which all staff are encouraged to make suggestions on how processes, products and services can be improved.

The idea that organisations should aim to improve the quality of their products and services on a continuous basis was first taken up in Japan, where the word for continuous improvement is “Kaizen”.

At the heart of Kaizen is the idea that if customers constantly changing needs and wants are to be met, there must be continuous improvement in small steps, at all levels, forever. Everyone has a role to play in achieving it, from senior managers down to line managers and their staff.

There are a number of tools available to aid with continuous improvement, some of these are –

  1. The five whys; This is a simple technique, developed by the Japanese, which consists of asking the question “Why?” in relation to a particular process, outcome or event.
  2. Process flowcharting; This is a list of steps in a process, each of which leads to the next one.
  3. Cause and effect diagrams; This consists of a larger arrow, into which smaller arrows lead. The larger arrow represents a process or problem and each of the smaller arrows represent one of the main categories of input into the process or problem.

Another method of improvement is breakthrough improvement which involves major improvements in key business areas. They are often chronic problems solved permanently through focused, dedicated resources working for a limited period of time. Due to the investments in time and attention required, breakthrough improvement projects are selected by a management group that typically acts as a steering group. The improvement goal is between 50 and 95 percent improvement in 4 to 12 months, depending on project scope. Usually the scope of inquiry crosses multiple functional boundaries. These are good opportunities for developing next-generation leaders, an equally important aspect of creating an enduring quality culture. Breakthrough improvement projects yield the highest economic return in the short- to medium-term.

In contrast, continuous improvement is about many, small improvements initiated and implemented by anyone and everyone in the organization to improve the quality of their working processes and practices.

One driver for innovation within my organisation is the use of new technology to collaborate and share knowledge. This is due to us having several offices throughout Wales and we are always looking for new ways we can easily collaborate without a large amount of time spent traveling.

Innovation, change and quality are at the heart of improvement, learning and collaborative working. Organisations are increasingly recognising the importance of keeping up with technology, adapting and testing new ideas.

By successfully embracing innovation and change into an organisation, it can reap numerous rewards such as –

  • Financial gains
  • Increased competitive advantage in the market place
  • An enhance rate of innovation in products, services and processes.
  • Expansion into new markets
  • Improved operating efficiency, particularly in relation to the ability to deal with short production runs and customised service provision.
  • Improved adaptability to cope with the market demands through enhanced processes and product innovation capacity.
  • The reduction of unnecessary cost such as those associated with work-in-progress, waste and labour turnover.
  • Improvements in customer satisfaction.
  • Improved industrial relations.
  • Improvements in quality of working life through job enrichment and empowerment.
  • Improved workforce skills, social competencies and employability
  • Enhanced motivation and employee performance through extended involvement and job security.

To create a good culture that encourages creativity and innovation it is important to have the correct conditions and processes in place. Staff and your team need to have appropriate objectives/targets set and these need to align with the organisational vision and priorities. These objectives will help to set the direction for your staff and team ensuring clarity of purpose which is essential for a well-motivated team.

Epstein et al (2005) identified seven rules to support implementation of innovation –

  1. Leading Innovation – Define innovation strategy, designing portfolios, and encouraging value creation
  2. Integrating innovation and business strategy – matching innovation to your overall business strategy.
  3. Balancing creativity and value capture – generating successful new ideas that drive maximum return on investment
  4. Weaving innovation into the fabric of business – making innovation truly integral to your company’s business mentality.
  5. Neutralising organisational antibodies – Preventing your company from killing off its best new ideas
  6. Building innovation networks – Leveraging innovation resources both inside and outside the organisation
  7. Measuring and rewarding innovation – Implementing the right metrics and the right incentives to drive results.

Innovation needs to have successful innovators, Peter Drucker (1985) noticed a number of things about innovation and innovators –

  1. Innovation is work – it may seem obvious, but it takes a lot of effort
  2. Innovators build on their own strengths
  3. Innovation is related to the market

Innovation is also the driver for any new challenges placed upon us, such as the requirement for new services or be more efficient with existing services or processes. NWIS tackles these requirements in several ways, either by creating a review process to generate new innovative ideas or we may look to recruit new creative staff to drive a project. NWIS has a very good culture of acknowledging any staff or teams that have done any good innovative work. This can then inspire these staff members to continue to build on their already good work and develop the next innovation to make NWIS more efficient and productive. The continuing identification of new innovations is extremely important for NWIS, as this helps us to deliver value for money and excellent patient care for NHS Wales.

 

References

Epstein, M. j., Shelton, R., Davila, R. (2005) Making Innovation Work: How to manage it, Measure it, and profit from it, Wharton school publishing. [1.1]

Masaaki Imai. (1986) Kaizen: The key to Japan’s competitive success. [1.1]

Tidd, J., Bessant, J. and Pavitt, K. (2001) Managing Innovation, John Wiley [1.1]

Druker, P. F. (1985) Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann [1.1]

Isixsigma – https://www.isixsigma.com/dictionary/breakthrough-improvement/ [1.1]

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