Innovation is anything but business as usual; it’s about change and most of all, requires creativity. Whilst most companies have ambition for growth, they may lack the formal processes to manage the development that really turns ideas into new sales.
If you wish to stay ahead of the game, it’s important to look outside of your business, both for threats and opportunities. When exploring innovation, don’t just think in terms of products and services, think about people.
In the main, employees are the crucial driving force for change within businesses and for doing things differently. It’s those who possess innovative qualities who can really contribute to a company’s success, impacting work culture, practices and most of all, return on investment. With that being said, there is no better way to challenge the norm than hiring an innovative new Project Manager.
Increased workplace productivity
Change can lead to increased levels of productivity and if you prioritise innovation capability within the hiring process, it can have a ripple effect on the rest of your organisation. Chances are your employees have a ton of great ideas and not tapping into these can be a wasted opportunity. Employee engagement can lead to new processes that can decrease workload and increase productivity. The more change you encourage, the more innovative your company will become in generating new ideas and solutions.
Failure is an important part of growth, but not every great idea will work out and that’s okay - as long as you’re learning from your mistakes. All businesses have their strengths and weaknesses and in order to problem solve, it’s essential to identify and address these. An effective way to do this is through partnership and collaboration, which is something we offer at InterTradeIreland.
InterTradeIreland’s Innovation Boost programme (previously known as Fusion) can provide support by helping to fund a high calibre science, engineering or technology graduate and partnering you with a third level institution with specific expertise. Collaborative partnerships between business and academia are developed to create new products or improve current products and processes. Career Boost is the means to recruit an individual who solidifies the partnership and acts as the propellant to deliver the project. It promotes, supports and facilitates the recruitment of the next generation of innovation achievers.
The core purpose of Career Boost is two-fold. To provide an innovative, ambitious Project Manager to fuel innovative thinking and practice within SMEs to provide a unique, exciting and challenging opportunity to boost the Project Manger’s skills, experience and knowledge - driving them forward in their career. The Project Manager’s role is critical to the company’s growth and future capability. It’s not just learning on the job, but learning to lead as they take a company through the innovation process in real time.
2020 recipients of the Innovation Boost exemplar award reported sales of more than £300,000 and savings of close to £900,000 during their Innovation Boost projects. Combined, the five SMEs have anticipated sales of upwards of £1.5 million and savings of over £2 million, over the next three years.
Improve your market position
Hiring a Project Manager who values innovation can help you stay ahead of the competition. It’s not enough to just look at your competitors and copy what they’re doing, you’ll want to create your own ideas which can lead to long term growth. To achieve this, you’ll need to know your market, analyse trends, talk to your customers and look to global competitors.
Northern Ireland based company Woodmarque, applied innovative research to their industry through hiring a graduate as part of Innovation Boost. Additionally, they benefited from the services and support of the University of Limerick in successfully finding uses for the company’s wood waste by-product – a new experience for the firm who had been in business for over 40 years. The company quoted the support as being an invaluable resource to meeting customers’ needs and help ‘future-proof’ their business.
Hiring for Innovation
In an ever-changing and increasingly competitive marketplace, innovation is vital for business growth and success. It’s important to train your staff in the key principles and skills of innovation and ensure it is easy for new learning to be integrated into the way things are done. Recognise those people who are curious, try new things, and demonstrate their own commitment to continual learning.
The success of hiring for innovation can be seen in the companies taking part in the Co-Innovate programme. Funded by INTERREG VA and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), InterTradeIreland is the lead partner on the programme, which offers project funding and capability development to help give companies their ‘innovation wings’.
Cootehill, a Precision Engineering company based in Co. Cavan hired an innovation manager through the Co-Innovate programme. The firm wanted to introduce precision 3D scanning to significantly reduce the lengthy process of reverse engineering. During their Co-Innovate project the company partnered with the School of Engineering at Ulster University.
Cootehill highlights the impact this had on business success, “The project has been an excellent opportunity for all parties involved and demonstrated that anything was possible” said Project Manager, Richard O’Kare. “I strongly believe this technology of scanning and product design will continue to open doors for businesses like Cootehill Precision Engineering Limited”.
The bottom line
Whether you’re a new Project Manager or a company taking the first step towards innovation - having great ideas within business isn’t enough. Change is at the heart of innovation and for companies to grow and succeed it’s all about taking action. Hiring an employee who values innovation is the perfect way to motivate your employees, inspire creativity and stray away from ‘the norm’.
If you wish to learn more about the benefits of innovation, identify opportunities for growth and make this happen, contact InterTradeIreland.