25 June, 2024

Subtle or disruptive – which tactic is most innovative?

21 February, 2020

It’s common knowledge that to remain successful, a company must innovate. But what does innovation actually mean? Is disrupting the status quo and discovering brand new products or processes the only way to innovate? Or can being innovative mean something subtler; for example, making an already good product even better? Lesley Eaton, marketing executive for progressive cavity (PC) pump specialist Seepex UK, explains why fostering an ongoing supportive climate is more valuable than a single great idea when it comes to encouraging innovation.

Laying the foundations

A joined-up approach to innovation is essential. A dedicated technology and innovation department comprising R&D, innovation strategy, engineered solutions, and product and industry management, will pay dividends. As each area is interlinked – new ideas are generated by innovation strategy, new products require R&D, new applications for existing pumps fall under the remit of engineered solutions, etc – a dedicated innovation department will ensure that the correct resources are available as and when required. After all, where’s the value in a good idea if there isn’t a framework in place to enable development beyond the idea phase?

A culture of innovation

However, the framework only pays dividends if a company also fosters a supportive staff culture. In real terms, this means:

• Having an open mind – There’s no such thing as a bad idea. If your staff feel their suggestions will be ignored or laughed at, they won’t speak up. Let them know that all ideas are welcome.

• Being patient – Don’t expect instant results. Take time to reflect on new ideas and improve upon them. When you’re sure they’re ready, persevere and be tenacious.

• Learning from your experiences – If your idea isn’t perfect, think about what you can do differently next time. See it as simply the first step on the road to innovation and use the knowledge you’ve gained to improve things further.

• Collective ownership – A team-based approach to innovation allows both individuals and departments to freely explore new ideas, even if the first attempt doesn’t succeed.

• Collaboration – Work together with colleagues, end-users and the wider market (e.g. trade associations, research centres) to discover what the market actually needs and develop workable solutions to real problems.

Collaboration is central to our innovation strategy at Seepex; so much so that we have nurtured a Growth Alliance, made up of employees who are out in the field and recognised as having superior customer knowledge of customers’ pumping applications and issues. These client-facing members of staff are brought into the design process along with our engineering and design teams, to ensure we know what the industry needs and to understand the challenges it is facing.

More than one way to innovate

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