Listening is an essential step in your innovation process, and it will help you to easier start the engines of your innovation process.
The most successful small businesses make an innovation to be part of their daily everyday routine.
But, it is not the problem with the existence of the innovation process. The problem is more in starting the engines of the innovation process, and it starts with the consistent flow of innovative ideas. Without innovative ideas, the innovation process will not start.
If you are the only one who talks in your company, how can you learn something new for yourself? You can’t learn while you are talking. You can learn only when you listen, and because of that, most of the smartest people don’t talk too much. They listen and make decisions based on what they have listened to.
Who Do You Need to Listen as a Part of Your Innovation Process?
Yes, this is an important question? Who do you need to listen to as a part of your innovation process? Here I will try to cover the five most important entities that can help you to bring innovation to the top of your small business.
1. Listening to your customers.
Your customers are the most important persons related to your business. They are the ones who will tell you what you will need to improve and what you will need to innovate. If you build powerful listening habits for your customers, you will never find yourself in the situation without fresh, innovative ideas.
2. Listening to your employees.
The next essential persons that you will need to listen to are your small business team members. They are the ones who know all daily operations in your small business, so that they will give you important feedback related to future improvements in your business processes.
3. Listening to your partners.
Your partners are also part of your small business ecosystem, and their competence outside your small business borders is important for your future success. So, listening to your partners will give many important insights about possible future steps you will need to take in innovation.
4. Listening to your competitors.
Your competitors are also an essential part of your small business when it comes to your innovation ecosystem. What they are doing and what they are saying is important for your company that, in many cases, will form future strategic decisions that you will need to make regarding improvements and innovations.
5. Listening to the general public.
Innovation will require consistent communication with a broad group of people with different backgrounds, generations, industries, markets, geography, and positions in society. You never know what you can learn from them that will be important for your next innovation action steps.
Suppose you succeed in creating strong listening systems for these persons inside and outside your company. In that case, you will always have fresh, innovative ideas and possible directions that will lead you on your path to success.
What You Can Listen in Your Innovation Process
So, you already have identified the most important sources you will need to listen to. Now it is time to decide what to listen to.
As a general rule, I am always proposing to entrepreneurs the following things when it comes to the subject of their listening:
- Listen to everything that comes from your customers, potential and current ones.
- Listen purposefully when it comes to the technology. This means that you will need to listen to everything about technology closely related to your company, market, and industry, and listen about broader technology only what you think that will be important for your company.
- Listen to everything that is related to the development of your company’s human resources.
- Listen purposefully what comes from your competitors. This means to listen to everything that comes from them, is a fact, and only interesting rumors and assumptions.
Now, you can see that you will need to listen about facts, rumors, and assumptions, or predictions important for your business or closely related to your company, market, or industry in which your business operates.
Where is Listening in Your Innovation Process
In the simplest form, listening is at the beginning of your innovation process, at the stage in which you are collecting data, information, and ideas about future innovative actions that your company will take.
But, what about the improvements in your innovation process? What will you use as middle checkpoints and feedback loops that will help you in the next improvement of the innovation process itself? You will have to listen also in all other steps as a part of your innovation process, as shown in the figure below.