Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.2 Apply Innovative Thinking To The Development Of A Small Business

ryanrori June 15, 2020

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1 Develop Specific Techniques For Releasing Creativity In Developing Ideas / Opportunities

1.1 The Concept & Application Of Creativity Is Demonstrated Through Business Related Activities

1.1.1 Definitions

There is normally a great deal of confusion between the terms: Creativity, innovation, new idea generation and value engineering.

Creativity: process utilising imagination and originality. Products of imagination, art, fashion. Creativity refers to a person’s ability to think creatively. It refers to the act of getting ideas for products or services. The emphasis is on finding the correct features of a product or service.

Innovation: To create a new result through the introduction of a process or way of doing things. Innovative ability refers to the use of creative abilities to create something concrete.

Innovation refers to the implementation of ideas – the translation of ideas into products or services. The emphasis is on finding the benefits that must be provided by a product or system in order for people to value it sufficiently to be willing to change.

We can define innovation, as the commercialisation of ideas by changing the existing products, systems and resources.

From the comparisons made above, we can deduce that innovation cannot take place without creativity, because creativity initiates innovation.

Value engineering: To take something of a certain value and, by changing a process or design, to increase the value of the item without substantively changing itself.

1.1.2 Business related activities

The problem for many entrepreneurs is that they either have very general ideas about their future projects or no ideas at all. It might be very difficult for you to come up with a business idea that’s new or different, rather than just copying what you see everyone else doing (or selling). In this module we want to help you to “unchain your brain!” and think more creatively. HAVE FUN with the exercises in this section – be silly, be funny, be crazy… You might just find the next big idea to take the market by storm.

How creative entrepreneurs solve problems:

  • They are not afraid of lack of knowledge.
  • They allow thoughts to mill around in their minds without categorising them.
  • They do not restrict their own thinking unnecessarily.
  • They search for unusual solutions (different, unexpected ideas).
  • They detect problems (and solutions) where others do not expect them.
  • They have great energy that drives them to do things (achieve), even under difficult circumstances.
  • They don’t let themselves be limited by their environment.
  • They criticize themselves more than others do.
  • They like ventures involving calculated risk.
  • They examine things from another viewpoint.
  • They want to combine usefulness with a better looking product.

The following exercise was designed to stimulate your creativity

Activity 1The ball in the bag

In the game of golf, players are not allowed to move their ball from the spot it has landed in. The ball must be played exactly as it landed. If you move the ball you lose a “shot”. It was during a very important golf tournament that Ernie Els had an excellent chance of winning. His first shot fell just short of the green, giving him a good chance to finish the hole with fewer shots than the norm (a “birdie”). Smiling broadly, he strode down to the ball only to stop in dismay. His ball had rolled into a small paper bag carelessly tossed on the ground by a spectator watching the tournament.

If he removed the ball from the bag, it would cost him a penalty stroke. If he tried to hit the ball and the bag, he would lose control over the shot.

What should he do?

Write down your answer or solution to the problem in the space provided and complete the practical exercise in your Student Workbook.

Activity 2 : Value-Engineering

Choose an ordinary object, e.g. a toothbrush; pen or chair. Think of what the object actually does.

  • Is there a better way of doing the same thing?
  • Is there a way you could make this product better, for instance by adding features?
  • Is there a way you could make this product cheaper, by making it with different material or taking away things?
  • How could you make the product more exciting?

Draw your improved product in the space provided in your Student Workbook and explain the changes you have made.

Activity 3: The Farmer’s Land Bequest

In this exercise you will be taught to divide a large problem into smaller pieces.

A farmer had a piece of land that had an unusual shape. When he died, his will stated that the property must be divided into four pieces for his four children.

As they, however, always fought while he was still alive, he also stipulated that:

  1. All four pieces must be of an equal size
  2. All four pieces must have the same shape
  3. All land given to each child must border onto at least two other children’s land (to teach them to get along)
  4. Each child may only receive one piece of land

Draw your answer to the question in the space provided in your Student Workbook.

1.1.3 Practical exercise

Activity 4:  Define any problem that you are experiencing in your business or in your community.  Use the space provided in your Student Workbook for your answers.
Study each of the recorded elements and decide if anything can be done to solve that smaller section of the problem. You will find that by solving the elements of a large and complex problem that the problem reduces in size and can mostly be solved in its entirety.

 

1.2 The Difference Between Analytical & Creative Thinking Is Demonstrated With Examples Through Problem-solving Activities In A New Venture Creation Context

Definitions:

Analytical thinking: A way of thinking in which a substance (such as a problem or business statement) is divided into its parts to identify it or to study its structure.

Creative thinking: A way of thinking in which imagination and originality is shown. This is the power to bring into existence, originate, produce or give rise to ventures or products.

Creativity: The ability to consider a topic in various ways and to come up with something new.

Although some people are born with the gift of being creative, it is possible for anyone to develop and improve their creative abilities. It is important to understand that creativity is just as much an attitude as a manner of thinking. It is thus possible to think of new ideas by attuning yourself to creativity. The following methods can be used to improve your creativity:

CULTIVATE A CREATIVE ATTITUDE

EXPLORE GREY AREAS

ACTIVELY SEEK IDEAS

BREAK YOUR ROUTINE

WRITE YOUR IDEAS DOWN

VIEW A TOPIC FROM ANOTHER PERSONS PERSPECTIVE

1. Actively seek ideas: One can learn to seek ideas actively by judging everything that you read or observe on the strength of ideas that you can develop from it. If you think in this way regularly, it later becomes a habit, and ideas will manifest themselves.

2. Write your ideas down: Make it a habit to write down your idea as soon as you have one, even if you feel it is not a good idea. Regularly read through the ideas. This will give you the opportunity to review them, compare them with other ideas and combine them in a new concept.

3. View a topic from another person’s perspective / point of view: Put yourself in somebody else’s position, and you get a different perspective on a topic. With better understanding of other people’s points of view you will gain new insights and ideas. By asking yourself, for example, what the mother of a pre-school child thinks of the concept “to see red”, and then to put the shoe on the other foot and see it from the perspective of a busy business woman or a widowed grandmother, you can generate totally new ideas.

4. Break your routine: A good way of stimulating your thoughts is to break your routine. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take note of how you perform everyday actions, like feeding the dog, and do them differently.
  • Spend a whole day without something that is a part of each day’s routine, e.g. your car.
  • Read a book on a subject that you know nothing about.
  • Start a conversation with a stranger: someone you wouldn’t normally speak to.
  • Do something you have never done before, like going to the opera, riding a horse or starting a new hobby or sport (in other words, broaden your horizons!).

5. Explore the grey areas: If you tend to see only the usual right and wrong sides of a case, it is time to explore the grey areas between right and wrong. Make a habit of looking for different solutions and possibilities. Start by completing the following incomplete questions. See how many solutions you can find to each in ten minutes:

  • What will happen if I……………………………………………?
  • In what different way can I ………………………………….. ?
  • Who will benefit by…………………………………………………….. ?

Space to write down your solutions is provided in your Student Workbook

Take some time to tune your mind for creativity before you start looking for small business ideas. This mind set will eventually help you to identify new or better small business ideas.

Activity 5: Complete the Practical Exercise

 

1.3 Barriers To Creative Thinking Are Identified With Examples Of Their Effect On Creative Thinking

ARTICLE

“Transcend the prison of your mind

To live continually in thoughts of ill will, cynical in suspicion of everyone, is to be confined in a self-made prison hole.”

– James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

 I recently received a letter from a prisoner that really touched me. In it, he told me about his ideals and dreams. Despite his confinement he has managed to strengthen his resolve to have a positive outlook and to still make a success of his life.

 Imagine yourself being totally cut-off from the world, from your family and loved ones. Imagine spending the biggest part of every day in a small cell, without being able to see the sky, plants and trees, without being able to see and feel the sunlight. Deserved or not, this can be a sad state to be in for any person indeed.

 Sadder still is when people who can go anywhere they want to and do anything they want to remain prisoners of their own minds. They’ve been conditioned to accept “limitations” and “circumstances” as reality and don’t do or try to do anything that may take them beyond their comfort zone. Bertrand Russel said “every man is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions that moves with him like flies on a summer’s day.” So it is with all of us, some to a bigger extent than others.

 These “comforting” or more likely “uncomforting” convictions are like iron bars around us, representing the jail we live in. Although an illusion, we’ve been conditioned to accept it as reality. To us these are real, solid barriers that we don’t even attempt to break. And if you do manage to break out of one set, you can easily find yourself being confined by a next set of imaginary barriers. So if you suspect that you may be limiting yourself by the beliefs you’ve chosen to foster, what can you do to break out of this and achieve the goals and experiences you are looking for?

 Past conditioning is very strong and your brain has a built-in mechanism to protect your old belief patterns, so it may be difficult to just ‘break out’ of this man-made jail. But you can transcend it. I was once in my own self-made prison. I worked for a large insurance company and gradually became dissatisfied with my circumstances, my level of income, the place I lived in and the work I did. I knew I wanted different circumstances in my life and most of all I wanted to be busy with the kinds of things that I was really interested in.

Inspirational books and stories helped me start the process of change. Some of the first inspirational books I read included Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World”, Harry Lorayne’s “Secrets of Mind Power”, Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “The Success System that never fails” by W Clement Stone, and “The Magic of Getting What you Want” by David I Schwartz. In this book, Schwartz writes “In building a life of success or failure, your mind takes in information, processes it, and then consciously and subconsciously tells you what to do. Feed your mind success producing information and you will prosper.”

 I learned that I have to “feed” my brain with positive input and the results I’m looking for. I read more and more, and I visualized myself having the experiences I wanted to have. I talked about it. Through visualising using emotion, the neurological programmes in my brain, which represented these new circumstances, became stronger and I became determined to reach my goal.

I eventually took the step and made a career change, resigning my steady job for the uncertain world of a trainer working for himself, and things started to change. I went through what I then considered to be terrible ordeals, but today I am thankful for those experiences. They were stepping-stones and learning experiences that guided me to the experiences I was looking for. I have discovered that it is this learning which is really important. What you have learned through difficulty and hardship can never be taken away from you. Through the choices you make you mould your character and you become stronger, emotionally and spiritually.

Imagine that you can see the barriers of the “prison” that you are currently living in, and describe them by writing them down. Now write down the goals that you would like to achieve but which currently lie beyond those barriers. Application of the following extract from the Prosper Program notes can help you to optimise your brainpower and help you to transcend your self-made “prison”.

Set challenging goals. Visualise the end experience and make use of as many senses as possible while you are in a deeply relaxed state. Read positive material often, think and speak only positively. Change your body language – a smile, an upright posture recalls previous successes and discharges endorphins and “positive” neurotransmitters in your brain. Look for humour in every situation. Get perspective – for example, think how you would use every precious moment if you have only six months to live. Your attitude towards your work or studies must become the same as your attitude towards a game. Hope is an indispensable quality. Choose something to look forward to every day.

Expect miracles. Do positive things. The moment you do something positive, the message to your brain is that there is direction and hope. To choose a sensible target mobilises your energy.

Energy should not be wasted on negative thoughts. Be busy with your future and prevent a tragedy from happening: a life spent behind imaginary bars.”

Practical exercise:

Activity 6 : Read the above article carefully and make a list of the limiting factors in your own life and circumstances that might stop you from achieving great success in the space provided in your Student Workbook.

 

1.4 Lateral Thinking Exercises Are Applied To Generate New Ideas

Definitions:

Lateral thinking is a method of solving problems without using conventional logic.

Brainteasers

Activity 7 : Brainteasers help you to be more open minded, i.e. to stretch your imagination beyond your usual way of thinking. While doing the Brainteasers, try to think wider and bigger than what you see on the page in front of you. What you see here, is not always what you get! (Your lecturer will have solutions for these exercises)

 

2 Determine The Role Of Innovation In The Development & Growth Of A New Venture

2.1 The Concept Of Innovation Is Described & Discussed In Relation To New Venture Creation

Innovation starts before the start of a new venture and should never, through the lifespan of the business, be left behind.

Activity 8: Decide which type of thinking will be required for the events tabulated in the development of a business venture:
 

2.2 Types Of Innovation Are Identified & Explained With Examples

Innovation can result from:

  • The “better idea” to do something, to produce something or to bring something to the consumers.
  • A community need
  • A workplace need
  • A personal need
  • Technological advances or development that are applied to satisfy a specific need
  • Something used by somebody else or elsewhere in a different context that can be applied in your environment
  • An adaptation of an existing idea
  • “Monkey see – monkey do” (Sometimes better)
  • A combination of existing solutions
  • The practical application of a theory
  • The refinement of or different application of existing ideas

It is however necessary to give more attention to the types of innovators and innovation in order to fully understand the concept.

Types of innovators:

Two different types of innovators are associated with the different stages of the innovation process (Glynn 1996: 1096) namely idea generators and idea adaptors.

1. Idea generators

Idea generators initiate idea generation in the initiation stage of innovation. They are nonconformists and will disregard or violate existing organisational rules and norms as the need arises. Idea generators have expertise in a limited number of fields, enjoy conceptualising abstract ideas, see new and different ways of doing things and tend to work alone.

2. Idea adaptors

Idea adaptors operate in the implementation stage of innovation and have more bureaucratic savvy, which they use to navigate ideas through the organisation’s formal and informal ‘corporate immune’ systems, where resistance is often encountered. Idea adaptors have a wider range of interests, are more applied, and interact with others to sell ideas.

Thus the type of individual who successfully initiates the generation of new ideas usually differs from the type who successfully implements those ideas. The individual behind idea generation (idea generator) may capitalise on domain-relevant and creativity skills, while the individual behind implementation (idea adaptor) requires knowledge about the organisational context and interpersonal skills. Both types of innovator are needed if innovation is to be successful.

Types and extent of innovation:

Innovation can occur in every aspect of the organisation’s operations, for example:

  • In the selection and use of

          raw materials,

  • In the way the organisation   

          is structured and managed,  

  • In the way goods and

         services are produced and,

  • in the marketing activities.

A distinction can therefore be made between two main types of innovation, namely product innovation (including innovations in the selection and use of raw materials and innovations with regard to the management and structure of the organisation) and process innovation (including innovations in the production of products and/or services and innovations with regard to the marketing thereon.

  • Product innovation is the development of a new product, eg. a new model of car or a restaurant introducing a special menu for dieters.
  • Process innovation is concerned with how the product is made or delivered to the customer, e g a restaurant opening a self-service section in addition to the existing waiter service.

The most fundamental product innovations usually take place at a relatively early stage of a firm’s development, when it is still relatively small. As the firm develops, more emphasis is placed on process innovation.

 A distinction can also be made between basic innovations and innovations that are modifications and improvements on existing products and processes. In fact, the great majority of innovations are not major breakthroughs but modifications.

The following table illustrates some examples of basic innovations and modifications for each type of innovation.

TYPE

OF INNOVATION

EXTENT OF THE INNOVATION

 

BASIC

MODIFICATION

PRODUCT

The use of plastic in place of glass in bottles

Changing the components of the plastic in the bottles to make them more durable

PROCESS

Introducing robots to perform the welding operation in a car assembly plant

Using a different kind of welding rod to enhance the quality of the welding

 

2.3 The Impact Of Innovation On A New Venture Is Explained With Examples

 Consider the following scenarios:

  • Innovation can be the reason for a new venture.
    • Example: A new plastic moulding process is discovered in Germany. The German firm allows experimentation with their machines in order to allow entrepreneurs the opportunity to find unique uses for the methodology and thereby create a market for their machines. Sibongile cc. found a new way to make car dashboards utilising the German technology and sets up a new enterprise to sell to the motor industry.
  • Innovation can save an existing venture.
    • Example: You are Jimmy, the sole owner of Jimmy’s Pencils, a specialist manufacturing concern. Upon visiting the local stationery shop you see pencils that are half the price of your own pencils. You know that you only make 15% gross profit on those specific pencils. When you start enquiring you find out that the pencils were made by an opposition company that found a new way to glue the two halves of the pencils together. Your method of gluing the halves together was started by your grandfather when he was still a young man. You immediately sit down to analyse the cost of the process and find, to your amazement, that it constitutes 40% of the cost of the pencil. You will therefore have to innovate to save your company.
  • Innovation can change the direction or focus of a venture.
    • Example: Lamborghini manufactures tractors and agricultural implements. (And very expensive sports cars that can reach 300km/h). Peugeot manufactures chainsaw blades (and bicycles and family cars). Yamaha manufactures guitars, electronic musical instruments such as keyboards, outboard engines for motorboats and motorcycles. By exposure to other industries, some companies are constantly seeking new avenues for innovation in growth industries such as the Aerospace or the Information Technology Industries.
  • Innovation can demand or bring funding to a venture.
    • Example: Your name is Mr. I. Diddit. You were sitting behind your desk dawdling on a piece of paper while your boss was talking to Sexy Sue, the new secretary. You were thinking about your wife and the fact that she was probably doing the washing at that moment when all of a sudden you drew a fantastic new design for clothes pegs. You immediately realise that this idea can make you independent, rich and able to afford your own secretary. The only problem is the fact that you have no money. While the boss starts making plans to take Sexy Sue to dinner, you start drafting your business plan.
  • One innovation must be completed with focus on completed business before the next is started.
    • Example: Control Metal Shop cc. found a very good and cheap way of applying Teflon to aluminium. It led to many orders from the manufacturers of non-stick cookware and the motor industry. The company started making lots of money and the boss got bored. He found something else to occupy his mind: Experimenting with ways to get the human body to absorb certain medicines. He spent a fortune trying out other peoples theories and lost both his businesses a year later. The metal treatment company to his competitors and the medical company to his liquidators.
  • Keep your new good ideas in your head until you and the business can afford them.
Activity 9: Please provide an example in the space provided.

We can distinguish between two broad opposing categories of innovation, namely incremental innovation and radical innovation.

  1. Incremental innovation is the constant supply of small ideas in product and process innovation, for example the constant supply of new Tupperware products introduced each year.
  2. Radical innovation is the introduction of a few ideas in product and process innovation that will bring about big change, for example the first introduction of the cell phone technology.

The belief in the cumulative power of small ideas (incremental innovation) in product and process innovation, as well as a focus on modifying product ideas (such as modifying existing video technology) were some of the key features underlying Japan’s success over the last two decades in becoming the market leader in industries originally founded on Western innovation.

A new small business usually cannot attract the necessary resources to market a revolutionary product that requires radical advances in technology, a new manufacturing process and new distribution channels (radical innovation). They usually focus first on building and exploiting a few sources of uniqueness and use standard, readily available elements in the rest of the business (incremental innovation).

Furthermore, competitors can easily copy an entrepreneur’s innovative product (product innovation). But they will find it much more difficult to replicate systems that incorporate many distinct and complementary capabilities (process innovation). A business with an attractive product line, well integrated manufacturing and logistics, close relationships with distributors, a culture of responsiveness to customers and the capability to produce a continuing stream of product innovations is not easy to copy. New small businesses should therefore rather concentrate on incremental and process innovation.

Two types of innovation strategies can be identified, namely ‘first to the market’ and ‘follower’ strategies (Needle 1994: 228).

  • First to the market’ strategies

Organisations or individuals pursuing this type of strategy see research and development as a central part of their operation. There is a strong commitment to basic research and technical leadership and thus a willingness to take risks with comparatively large investments.

A number of distinct advantages can be obtained by being first to the market, namely (Needle 1994: 228):

  • the patent system can be used to create a monopoly position and earn income from licensing activities
  • those first to the market can control limited resources
  • those who are first can set the industry standards

If you don’t have the necessary technical expertise or funds, or you do not want to take that big a risk, a follower strategy can be used.

  • Follower’ strategies

A variety of follower strategies can be identified (Needle 1994: 229), namely:

  • the use of state-of-the-art technical knowledge, invented elsewhere, to develop your own product range (organisations or individuals that want to pursue this strategy must have research and development capabilities)
  • following state-of-the-art technology, but concentrating more on design modifications (organisations or individuals that want to pursue this strategy must have research and development capabilities)
  • copying others’ products (organisations or individuals that want to use this strategy must have a strong manufacturing base and have the ability to do this quickly and effectively)

Advantages of being a follower (Needle 1994: 229):

  • Goods can often be introduced more cheaply as high development costs do not have to be recouped.
  • One can learn from the mistakes of the pioneers.
  • A market is already established with support mechanisms such as knowledgeable retailers, service and maintenance facilities and complementary products.
  • You can build on the reputations of others obtained in other fields.

The ‘first to the market’ and ‘follower’ strategies are not mutually exclusive and a firm can pursue different strategies in different product markets.

Whatever strategy is pursued requires the full blown support of the rest of the organisation.

Activity 10 : Show that you understand the different innovation strategies by identifying an appropriate strategy for each of the situations listed in your Student Workbook (indicate whether it is a first-to-the-market or a follower strategy):

 

2.4 The Relationship Between Successful Entrepreneurship & Innovation Is Explained With Examples

Strategic considerations:

Although there are two main types of innovation strategies that organisations or individuals can use, the following strategic considerations should be taken into account.

  • Instead of developing new products and processes itself, a firm can use the patent and licensing system to manufacture a product or use a process that has been developed elsewhere. This simply requires the payment of a license fee to the patent holder. This not only eliminates research and development costs but also saves a great deal of time in the development process by avoiding duplication of effort.
  • A joint development with another company can be undertaken.
  • Close and effective relationships with suppliers can be built up, which can lead to new developments in both products and processes.
  • A specialist research consultant firm can be approached to undertake the necessary research.
  • Another enterprise can be acquired. In this way an organisation or individual can acquire or add new products, processes and patents, by purchasing particularly innovative companies that operate in their chosen direction of diversification.

It is important to note that the strategy you choose will have to be refined through experimentation and adjustment and will ultimately change as the business environment changes.

Activity 11: A classroom discussion will be held on this topic. Please make your own notes on this discussion in the space provided in your Student Workbook

 

2.5 Factors That Contribute To The Development & Growth Of A New Venture Are Identified & Explained With Examples 

Your ability as an entrepreneur to carry out innovation strategies is dependent on the existence of certain conditions in your organisation. Most of the following conditions are typical of innovative organisations.

  • Top management is responsible for the overall innovation strategy and provides the necessary leadership.
  • Top managers recognise that they cannot build their organisations on a model of top-down direction and delegation and are committed to encouraging bottom-up ideas and initiatives.
  • Innovation is not only seen as a priority but the entire organisational culture is based on innovation.
  • Creativity is allowed and fostered.
  • Employees are placed in jobs that fit their cognitive skills and abilities.
  • Those who do not learn to use the innovation are reassigned to other jobs.
  • Innovative people are identified and recognised and continuity and experimentation are assured.
  • The existence of creative people who initiate innovative processes is ensured by recruiting creative talents.
  • There is flexibility with regard to the allocation of priorities, patterns of working and normal control systems.
  • Innovation is seen as a long-term investment.
  • A risk-taking ethos exists which is supported by top management.
  • Adequate resources are provided for projects and innovators are allowed to select the necessary resources.
  • Intrinsic incentives are provided, especially at the initiation stage – for example, praise from supervisors for the use of innovation.
  • Extrinsic incentives are provided, especially at the implementation stage for example, financial rewards.
  • Disincentives are given for innovation avoidance.
  • Organisational systems that recognise and support viable innovation are created.
  • Attention is paid to integrating the function of innovation with the rest of the organisation’s activities – for example through the management information system, by creating cross-functional teams, or by using some managers in special integrating roles.
  • The exchange of ideas is encouraged.
  • Managers at all levels support the implementation of the innovation and have an in-depth understanding of the innovation. They are also provided with the necessary authority and resources to create a strong climate for implementation.
  • Innovation is seen as the responsibility of all staff, irrespective of their function.
  • Proposals move quickly through the approval process.
  • The organisation conducts training and development programmes that place emphasis on innovation and enhance organisational and industry knowledge.
  • Flexible and informal communication systems are developed.
  • Innovation is evaluated according to budgetary constraints on implementation expenses and the user-friendliness of the innovation.
Activity 12 : Think of your own current situation and list five conditions for innovation that exist and five existing conditions that do not promote innovation. Space for your answers is provided in your Student Workbook.

 

3 Apply Principles & Practices Of Innovation To The Development & Growth Of A New Venture

3.1 Innovative Thinking Is Applied To Generate New Products That The Business Can Make And / Or New Services It Can Provide For Greater Profitability And / Or Viability

Activity 13 : Identify new products that your own venture can make or a new service you can provide for greater profitability and/or viability in the space provided in your Student Workbook.

 

3.2 Innovative Thinking Is Applied To Generate Alternative Ways The Business Can Run Its Operations To Cut Costs & Increase Income 

The fundamental organisational challenge when implementing innovation is to change individuals’ behaviour. Implementation is the critical gateway between the decision to adopt an innovation and the successful routine use of that innovation within the organisation.

Implementing innovative ideas involves the following four steps:

  1. Gain acceptance for your idea
  2. Execute your implementation plan
  3. Develop an implementation plan
  4. Improve your implementation plan

We shall now take a look at each of these steps.

Step 1: Gain acceptance for your idea

This step is about convincing colleagues or customers of the worth of the proposed changes and adapting the solutions and plans to make them fit real-life situations and conditions. You must gain acceptance for your idea by showing them how a particular solution benefits them and how possible problems with the solution can be minimised.

Hierarchies create problems in that people at every level have the power to say no. You have to get to the person who can say yes. The following tips can help you to get there.

  • Find an ally, not only inside but also outside the company. If your idea is languishing on your boss’s desk, take it to another department or division within the company that might pursue it. Or persuade trusted customers – who really do get listened to – to ask the company why it can’t supply just what you are proposing. Include their requests for your product, their research showing that there’s a market for it, and their testimonials in your written proposal to top management.
  • Never ask for a decision any larger than you need to proceed to the next step. The larger the decision you ask for, the more threatening it is to whoever has to make the call. Rather than trying to sell a full-blown but untested idea, sell the simpler notion of getting a small amount of money to check out whether it can fly. Take it step-by-step.
  • Under commit and over perform. If you think that you can reach R2 million in sales by the end of year one, but can get approval by promising to reach R 1 million, then commit to the R I million but reach for the R2 million.
  • Avoid premature publicity. Premature internal publicity leads to jealousy and often to early disappointment. Premature external publicity just advertises your venture to competitors.
  • Recognise your own weaknesses. If you’re good at marketing but terrible at finance, go higher up and get somebody on your development team who’s an expert at finance.
  • Acquire the necessary writing and verbal skills. You have to be able to crystallise your idea in a memo, spelling out your vision in a dramatic way.
  • Answer the following questions:
    • Why is the idea good?
    • How does it fit in with our corporate strategy?
    • Is it worth the risk and cost?
    • What resources and skills do we need?
  • Take care in presenting your ideas. KT Conner (Couger 1995: 313) developed a series of six steps to be followed in selling an idea to a specific individual or group
    • Explain the idea and its rationale.
    • Explain the benefits and limitations.
    • Explain the impact on the listener.
    • Ask for reactions and concerns and respond empathetically.
    • Ask for input for resolving these concerns.
    • Agree on the next steps to take.

Whatever you do, be prepared to be unpopular. When asked how you identify the entrepreneurs in a company, business philosopher Peter Drucker responded: “Look for the troublemakers.” As George Bernard Shaw put it: “All progress is the result of the efforts of unreasonable men.”

Step 2: Develop an implementation plan

If an implementation plan is properly devised, the decision maker will be much more confident about proceeding with the idea.

The best way to do this is first to be divergent and then convergent in your thinking. (Divergent thinking is thinking in different directions or searching for a variety of answers, while convergent thinking is used to identify the most useful or appropriate answer.)

  • What new problems might this idea create? Eg: Our image will change to that of a ‘copycat’.
  • What possible difficulties might you encounter with this idea? Eg: We may lack the necessary technical expertise.
  • Who might be negatively affected by this idea?  Eg: Our relationship with our competitors might be affected.
  • How might you introduce this idea? Eg: At our next meeting with our stakeholders.
  • When might be the best time to introduce this idea? Eg: After showing our stakeholders the benefits of this new strategy.

Let’s diverge further. Without making any judgements, quickly list at least ten simple steps that need to be followed to get the ball rolling in your Student Workbook. (Hint: make sure that each one starts with an action verb and is simple, clear and specific.)

For example:

  1. Develop a new marketing campaign.
  2. Appoint the necessary technical expertise.
  3. Improve our information systems.
  4. Sell our idea to our stakeholders.

Now it’s time to converge.

From this list of possible actions, circle the one that you believe you should do first. On the action plan provided in your Student Workbook, write down

  • what will be done,
  • how it will be done,
  • by whom,
  • by when and
  • where?

You are likely to think of further action steps that should be carried out either just before or just after your first step. In either case, complete an action plan for each.

MY ACTION PLAN

What will be done? eg: Selling our idea to our stakeholders

How will it be done? eg: A well-prepared presentation focusing on the benefits

By whom? eg: Koos Coetzee, the managing director

By when? eg: The next meeting of stakeholders

Where? eg: At a Conference Centre

You now have a plan for implementing your innovative idea.

Step 3: Improving the plan

 After developing an implementation plan, it is important to check its validity.

This will take additional time, but significantly increases the probability of success. Sidney Parnes has developed the following twenty-four point check list to determine whether the plan can be improved.

In what ways might I improve the plan?

  1. to make it more effective?
  2. to increase its potential payoff?
  3. to make it more practical, workable?
  4. to make it better serve my objective?
  5. to make it more pleasing to me and others?
  6. to make it more acceptable to me and others?
  7. to reap more benefits from it?
  8. to make it less costly?
  9. to make it more morally or legally acceptable?
  10. to get more rewards and recognition from it?
  11. to require fewer resources?
  12. to enrich its by-products?
  13. to increase its appeal?
  14. to gain more encouragement from others?
  15. to mitigate problems it might cause?
  16. to salvage more if it should fail?
  17. to make it easier to implement?
  18. to make it easier to follow up?
  19. to lessen risks or results of failure?
  20. to give me more confidence in its working?
  21. to make it more timely?
  22. to add fringe benefits?
  23. to make it easier to test?
  24. to enable taking first steps more easily?

Step 4: Executing the implementation plan

Now that you are sure that you have a good plan, you must take action by following each step in the implementation plan.

You have already learnt the steps that should be followed when implementing innovative ideas.

Activity 14 : List the four steps in implementing innovative ideas in your Student Workbook:

Innovation is not just another way of developing new products and services or breathing life into existing ones. It involves much more. Innovation is the single best way in which to leapfrog competition by ensuring constant change in products and/or processes.

When organisations adopt innovations they do so with high expectations, anticipating improvements in organisational productivity and performance. However the adoption of an innovation does not ensure its implementation. The organisational challenge is to create the necessary conditions in which to utilise the innovation and to develop a workable plan for its implementation. Only then will an organisation be likely to achieve the intended benefits of the innovation.

Activity 15 : Insert the principles and practices you selected for your new venture into the left-hand column of the table provided in your Student Workbook. List the requirements of your new organisation demanding that specific practice in the middle column and the time frame you are estimating it to initiate and be completed in the right-hand columns.

 

3.3  Innovative Thinking Is Applied To Generate Ways In Which The Business Can Generate More Employment Opportunities Without Putting The Business At Risk

Human labour is the most important part of the small business, because its influence   determines how well the other factors are utilised. Without people your business will not exist. A variety of viewpoints often allows for creative yet appropriate solutions.

Activity 16 : Name different employment opportunities that you can implement in your venture in your workbook.

3.4  Innovate Thinking Is Used To Generate Ways In Which The Skills Needs Of Employees Can Be Addressed Without Risking The Venture

Skills or needs of employees should first be identified. Constant contact with employees is essential. Expectation of evaluation and punishment tends to undermine creativity.  Intrinsic motivation fosters creativity, while extrinsic reward tends to be detrimental to creativity. Freedom and independence combined with greater democracy contributes to a creative business climate. A supportive working environment contributes to the fulfilment of creative potential and it includes a high level of employee responsibility for the initiation of new activities. Discussing ideas with other individuals, even with those who know little about the subject helps the process. Sometimes a question that initially seemed simple, can lead to new discoveries and new approaches to old problems. Although some people are born with a gift of being creative, it is possible for anyone to develop and improve his creative abilities.

Formal training does not necessarily guarantee success in a small business. Skills can be gained from working experience.

“In today’s fast changing world, it is not so much, what you know anymore that counts, because often what you know is old. It is how fast you learn. That skill is priceless.”

Robert Kiyosaki

Activity 17 : Find an article in a newspaper or a magazine on an entrepreneur and the staff that he employed/or the skills development of his staff.

 

3.5 Innovative Thinking Is Applied To Find Ways To Minimise The Impact Of Opposition Firms On The Venture

It is often surprising how little most small business people know about their competition. The small business owner must identify competitors and study them carefully. Once you know your opposition you can use a series of techniques to stimulate creativity in your venture eg.

SCAMP:

Substitute

This means to use one object instead of another. For example, Sylvan Goldman, owner of two supermarket chains in 1937, noticed his customers struggling with heavy shopping baskets. INSTEAD of baskets, he came up with the idea of the shopping cart. Today there are millions of shopping carts in the world!

Combine

Combining two objects, materials or talents can lead to a whole new business idea. In the mid 1880’s George Eastman developed a strong, lightweight cellulose film. He combined this with the idea of a lightweight camera to use with the film. This combination made Kodak the world leader in photography within ten years.

Adapt

To adapt is to change in some way. An object could be made to look sound or smell or taste or feel better. That is why it is so important to know you opposition and their products. In 1893, a Denver man, whose name is no longer known, developed a process for compressing dried wheat fibres into biscuits. John and Will Kellogg adapted this process to produce breakfast cereal. (Kelloggs Corn Flakes) You know what happened from there!

Magnify / Minimize

This means to make bigger and smaller. The enlargement of the small food store into a big supermarket is an example of the success of magnification! The pocket calculator, mini cell phone and lap top computer are examples of making successful products smaller which led to even greater success.

Put to another use

 Asking the question “What else could this product do?” can lead to a very successful or environmentally friendly business. For example, Goodyear Tyre Company has a pollution free heating plant that uses tyres as its only fuel.

Using each of the above techniques in different ways will help you to generate a range of different ideas and come up with better products or services than your competitors. Always remember the words of Michael Crisp: ”Often simple ideas are the best……”

You can also use brainstorming  which is a creative means of generating a large number of ideas from a group of people in a short time. It is used by big and small companies to find ways to solve problems.

Activity 18 : In you group, use creative thinking skills to develop business ideas. Select your best idea and present it to the whole class.

Remember: In generating these ideas, hundreds of good ideas will be mentioned. Do not only focus on the winning idea, but also look at the others. One of them might become your “Success” idea – make use of the opportunity.

 Always be creative

Be flexible and

Think beyond what the

eye can see!