5 Steps to Innovation: The Latte Principle

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 08:21

Guest post by James Paulsen

Innovation is crucial to the success of every business. New technologies and globalisation are testing current business models in new ways every day and the need to evolve has never been so evident.

There are many insights into how organisations can become more innovative; some are too complex to incorporate and others are too simple to make a difference. But while there is no one truly successful model, the principle of innovation is universal and it must be grown and fostered from within the organisation.

We’ve summarised some of the key innovation indicators from successful firms and incorporated them into the LATTE Principle of innovation – Listen, Ask, Trust, Timing, Evolve.

Listen – All successful firms look for feedback from their stakeholders including staff, customers and suppliers. This information should be collected regularly and reviewed for opportunity to improve processes, products or services. Feedback is the best form of knowledge and those providing the feedback feel part of the solution and motivated to join your company’s journey.

Ask – To garner effective feedback, you have to ask tough questions – some of which you may not like the answers to. By acknowledging and addressing negative feedback, problems become opportunities and can help create competitive advantage by overcoming obstacles other businesses haven’t yet realised exist.

Trust – Gaining the trust of your stakeholders is paramount to getting honest, valuable feedback that has the power to improve your business. Developing trust is a two-way street; you must value and appreciate their feedback and in turn provide feedback of your own on how and why (or why not) their feedback was utilised.

Timing – Timing is the critical factor with innovation, you can’t be last to the party and you don’t want to be first. Often the price of innovation is having to educate the market at your expense while your competitors leverage off your position. A first-mover advantage is critical; just don’t overstep the knowledge base and capability of your market. Innovation is best introduced in bite-size pieces so you don’t scare the market.

Evolve – The final step to creating an innovative organisation is to create a culture of evolution and never rest on your last great product or service. Successful companies usually look ahead 5 to 10 years to consider the ultimate product/service life cycle and how they will evolve their offer to meet future market needs.

Importantly, Innovation must be part of your company’s culture. It must be led from the top and encouraged throughout the entire organisation.

James Paulsen is the Founder and Executive Director of Queensland Leaders.