There is a lot of buzz around the notion of ‘innovation’ - and there is no bigger and more liberally used buzz word in the technology industry. There are lots of companies that claim to be ‘pushing the boundaries’ but when it comes down to it very few are actually able to walk to talk, producing truly innovative work. So how can you become an innovative company? Here are some tips from the Lateral team, which has been proudly ahead of the curve and the game for the last 30 years.
1. Prioritise it
To really let innovation take hold of your company it needs to be a priority. And it needs to be a priority for everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist! If innovation is always considered and frequently referred to, it will quickly gain importance and relevance, guiding every move your business makes and setting a cultural standard that you will continually strive to reach. Here at Lateral we make innovation a part of every plan and project so that we’re constantly striving to reach new heights.
2. Have a Champion
While prioritising is a great start, it’s easy for a concept like innovation to be forgotten. The best way to avoid this is to have an internal champion leading the charge. One of our fearless leaders, Thushara holds the position as our unofficial ‘Lead Innovator’. Even though he has been in business for over 30 years he’s always looking for ways to push us into new areas, treating it as an investment. One of his favourite pastimes is stirring up the organisation with disruptive and crazy ideas.
3. Engage with Education
Here at Lateral we believe that innovation is cultivated long before a person enters the workforce – it all starts with the students that will be the future leaders and innovators. This is why we involve ourselves in educating the next generation, embedding innovative practices into their psyche from day one. A great example of this is our involvement in the iPrep program – best described as a match-making service for businesses in need of a solution and PhD students in need of commercial experience, the program addresses the often overlooked gap between education and business, using innovation as the cornerstone. Find ways your business can engage with local universities and schools to help push the innovation agenda – not only does it feel good but it you’ll be meeting your Corporate Social Responsibility targets too!
4. Do Your Research
It’s only through a deep understanding of the barriers and the pitfalls of practising innovation that you’ll be able to find the best ways to foster it in your business. Lateral has involved itself in various studies and research papers to play its part in identifying how to overcome the obstacles, particularly related to education. The Office of Chief Scientists survey that we were involved in, released in August, found several barriers to ‘work-integrated learning’, including lack of incentives in universities to find placements, lack of capacity in business to provide meaningful experiences, and lack of communication between the two sectors.
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At Lateral, we pride ourselves on being more than just a typical software company going through the motions. We practice what we preach by involving ourselves with the people and the programs that are breaking ground in the tech space on how we can use innovation to change the world for the better.
How do you foster innovation in your business? Tell us in the comments!