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How to innovate – it’s not about innovation!

The term ‘innovation’ has been trending through business heavily over the last decade. It’s often used by companies in an engaging way but lacking in substance. Empty promises of innovative techniques and practices leave consumers feeling hollow.

The definition of innovation is “a new idea, method or device”; we have come so far in recent years that finding the ‘new’ is a struggle and realistically, a dead end. With little room left for originality, and most pioneering concepts really just being old ones re-shaped, how do we innovate?

From my experience, we should all be innovating in order to keep up with growing demand. If you’re not innovating, you’re effectively waiting to die. That being said, there are times where innovation isn’t necessarily about doing something new but finding a new way of managing what you do.

What do I mean by this? For the last nine years things have always been the same in my business, the Opus Professional Services Group. We work, we get results and we have been named a Virgin Fast Track company since 2012. Why fix what isn’t broken? On the other hand, as the world evolves and the next generation fills a gap in the workplace the demand for change is overwhelming but the change itself doesn’t have to have a complete overhaul in your workplace.

I love being involved with the everyday of my business; the trainees, the Managers, the latest deal done! The recruitment world is an exhilarating place to be and I’m still really excited when I hear about every win, both small and large. But with a growing workforce, I can’t physically keep track.

On day one, the process was simple. Everyone came into work and followed the proven successful process that achieved results – if only it were still that simple. Where we have expanded into different markets and territories, the same winning formula can’t be so generally applied and this is where we don’t change what we do, we adapt it.

I’ve been working with an innovative (yes, I went there) technology, Northstar, to revolutionise the way everyone in the Opus Group works on a daily basis. We aren’t doing anything differently; we are still picking up the phone, we are still meeting clients, we are still supplying a quality service. However, Northstar enables us to create a new way of developing and appraising employees for empowered staff and happier clients and candidates.

We’re not doing anything new in terms of day-to-day activities. I believe recruitment and sales is about getting the basics nailed! But the way we are now managing our workforce and results is innovative and game-changing.

Northstar is a multi-facet tool that enables employees and businesses to better manage their performance and goals. Our innovative approach is not by changing our training, our service or any of the likes, it’s by introducing new methodologies for tracking and enhancing performance.

But what should other businesses being doing to innovate?

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Not too long ago I read Legacy by James Kerr; an assessment of what makes the New Zealand All Blacks the world’s most successful rugby team. There are a number of key take aways from this book, but a reoccurring theme is not about changing the way a team plays, but about finding ways to enhance existing performance; nurturing talent, evolving and building on previous success.

James Kerr tells the story of Donald Bradman, “the finest sportsman of any generation”. He practised hitting a golf ball off a corrugated wall using a cricket stump every day for a decade. He was not concocting some physics-based algorithm to hit the ball each time, but simply creating a challenging environment so that when he had to do the job he was training for, he was prepared; where am I going with this you might be thinking?

We must all innovate; yes! But we are not all innovators. There are times where you need to understand that great performance comes with practise, attention to detail and passion. From this, you might even find that you do innovate, but you can’t force it. On the flipside, if you’re desperate to innovate it doesn’t always involve a complete overhaul and changing what you do.

Whatever happens you must commit to it. You must commit to your decision, invest in it and then at least if it doesn’t work you can say you followed it through properly. Not every business or business person has the bandwidth to innovate, but we can all draw upon our own passions and internal drivers to accomplish great things.

This post was originally published by Darren Ryemill CEO of Opus Professional Services Group

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