Find the time. It’s how you drive innovation

How much of your time is spent working on your business, rather than in it? If the answer is ‘very little’, then how are you finding the time to innovate?

You and your team members are more than likely working incredibly hard to deliver great results and satisfy your customers – but that leaves little time to spend evolving your business.

Recent research by GrowthAccelerator found two-thirds of business leaders “do not have enough time to step back from the day-to-day, to focus on a long-term strategy or determine how best to grow”.

If you’re always too busy dealing with day-to-day operations, how will there be any time left for innovative thinking?

In a recent NZ Herald article PwC innovation partner Andy Symons said innovative companies needed leadership that was “bold”. He said they need to “carve out some time and space […] to do some bold, new, different things.”

As Warren Buffet once said: “You can’t let other people set your agenda in life.”

How do you take control?

If your aspiration is to create sustainable growth for your business, you may need to look inwards and prioritise innovation.

The key to this is time.

Finding the time to regularly prioritise innovation may require investing in your business systems.

READ: The what, when, and how of ERP software

This will free up time for you and your team member to work on more value-adding projects.

Minimise wasted time

Research suggests that the biggest time wasters in business include co-worker interruptions, answering emails and unnecessary meetings.

Look at solutions that can really transform your business by streamlining processes and automating repetitive manual operations.

  • Minimise interruptions – create a cloud-based repository of business critical information so team members can find answers for themselves
  • Automate email based systems – cut down on unnecessary emails by creating auto responses, scheduling time-critical emails and encourage your team to manage their inbox using rules and subfolders
  • Improve speed to decision – get the right information into the hands of those who need it, so meetings can be action-oriented, rather than a chance to interpret the data
  • Automate performance reporting – cut down on manual data manipulation and human error by automating your performance reporting. Leverage the power of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboards that help you find meaningful insights fast.

Time for innovation

Once you’ve carved out the time savings, then it’s time to figure out how your business can be more innovative – and there are several ways to achieve this aim:

  • Spend more time one-on-one with your team members – taking the time to mentor and coach them as individuals
  • Give your team the time to work collaboratively on meaningful projects that motivate and engage them in your business success. Google is famous for creative initiatives to engage staff and generate ideas.
  • Free up time for big picture thinking and idea generation, rather than everyone being bogged down in the detail. An excellent example of this is 3M, which encouraged staff to use 15 percent of their day to explore their passion projects. This is the initiative that led to the creation of the Post-it-Note.
  • Make it a priority to work on the business, instead of in the business
  • Take the time to build your team culture – strengthening working relationships and engagement

Go boldly: Give your team the tools for innovation

Effective leadership is about having a vision, sharing it with your team and giving them the tools to make it a reality.

For you to be an effective leader you need to empower your team by investing in your business systems.

Be open to new solutions for your business that streamline processes.

This will free the team to work on big picture strategic projects that will deliver new ways of beating your competitors and deliver sustainable business growth.