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Last Friday Blog – Innovative Thinking

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With just over half of the year gone, we continue to build on our success at BHP by further encouraging and embracing innovation in our strategy and day to day culture.

Across all our service lines such as the use of Data Analytics in Audit, Cloud and App technology experts in our BHP Prosper team are constantly taking steps forward to make sure we use technology to improve the service we provide to our clients.

Last year, we set up an Innovation Committee of staff at all levels with the aims of:

  • Providing a platform for ideas to be listened to and problems to be identified
  • Encouraging innovation at all levels and emphasising its role within BHP’s culture
  • Identifying failures and ensuring we review and learn from them

Innovation, for me, starts with the three basic questions which should precede any task or process:

  1. Is the process needed?

This is often the simplest point to miss as it requires the greatest detachment from our brains desire for there to be a process in place to follow. The first question we always ask when a suggestion or issue is identified is whether that action should be being performed in the first place?

The response to this question should never include “because we have always done it like this” – a response such as this is gold for anyone with a desire to innovate.

And there are many ways to evaluate this, for example: Does it add value? What are we trying to achieve? Does the task achieve its aim?

  1. Is there an alternative option which is superior?

Again, before getting stuck into what we are already doing it’s important to step back and ask what are we aiming to achieve here? Cost/time efficiencies? Quality improvements? Improved staff satisfaction?

Once we know a task is required and the desired outcomes are identified, we then need to consider what would be the best way to achieve this.

It is not always the best strategy to keep spending time incrementally improving a process which could be improved by using technology or methodology to change the whole task in the first instance.

  1. Can the process be improved incrementally?

While sometimes innovation is about revolutionary thinking, often it’ll be about evolutionary thinking. This is when we can start to consider those incremental marginal improvements. Often tasks can be significantly held back by specific bottlenecks or issues, but innovation can be as simple as trial and error.

Mathew Syed, author of Black Box Thinking, wrote: “Marginal gains is not about making small changes and hoping they fly. Rather, it is about breaking down a big problem into small parts in order to establish what works and what doesn’t”.

There are many ways to approach innovation, but the core enabler is an innovative culture within an organisation from top to bottom. This type of culture if formed by the willingness and encouragement to make mistakes, learning from them, and the acceptance that it is okay to fail and fail fast.

We talk a lot about the Power of 1 and ways to achieve the 1% marginal improvements – so why not give this type of thinking a go and see what you can improve within your own business?

As Rosabeth Moss Kanter said: “Mindless Habitual Behaviour Is The Enemy Of Innovation”.

Innovative tax breaks

It’s also important to remember that research and development tax reliefs are available for companies who participate in innovation and please feel free to get in touch to find out more.