Close

How to be a more innovative company

Companies often say they want to be more innovative and yet many are not sure where to start. This article aims to give you some tools and questions to be more innovative as a company.

Read time: 2 minutes | Audience: Small business

What do you want?

The answer should be a broad non-technical solution to a problem you currently have within your company. Below are some examples.

What: I want our customers to be able to store voucher codes.

Often businesses will confuse what they want with a technical solution – “I want an app”, or “we need a database system”. This isn’t a ‘what’, but a ‘how’ – and we’ll get to that later.

Why do you want it?

Giving the context of ‘why?’ is incredibly important to a developer. At their core, developers are simply problem solvers who use computer code, and your ‘why?’ is the problem. The more detailed your ‘why?’, the more clues the developer has to the best way to solve the problem and its limitations.

Below, we build upon our examples:

What: I want our customers to be able to store voucher codes.
Why: A lot of our competitors use voucher codes but none off the ability to store them. This would mean more customers would use our vouchers over our competitors.
What a Developer Thinks: User experience and seamlessness becomes really important. Needs to be easy and intuitive to a user, otherwise they won’t store vouchers. They may also want rapid development of a prototype to beat competitors to market.

How do you want it done?

This is actually the least important question to have answered before seeing a software developer. It’s up to the developer to suggest technical solutions, but it doesn’t hurt to have some ideas in mind. It’s great to have a starting point but they’ll often take a step back and ask to you to elaborate on the first two
questions.

This is the also the stage where one can get carried away with ideas. It’s good to focus on the problem you’re trying to solve and make sure you completely solve them.

What: I want our customers to be able to store voucher codes.
Why: A lot of our competitors use voucher codes but none off the ability to store them. This would mean more customers would use our vouchers over our competitors.
How: A personalised web portal.

Some tools to help

A simple way to quickly learn your ‘what, why and how’ is through the following fill in the blanks exercise. [a] is your what, [b] is your why and [c] is your how.

“I want [a] because [b]. I’d like to try and achieve this by using [c].”

Questions to consider

What do I want?

  • What problem does it solve?
  • What is a non-technical solution to this problem?
  • What is another non-technical solution to this problem?

Why do I want it?

  • What will it make easier for me?
  • What will it make easier for the customer?
  • Will it save you money? If so, how?
  • Will it save you time? If so, how?
  • Will it make anything harder?
  • What’s the timescale for my idea? 

How do l want it done?

  • What does the thing do?
  • What is essential for my idea?
  • What is not essential for my idea?
  • If my system could only do one thing, what would it do?

Finally, what is my idea in a sentence?

Find Out More

If you enjoyed this briefing paper, check out our other digital resources which cover a wide range of topics, including quantum computing, social media, and 3D printing.

The Lancashire Cyber Foundry runs a series of business strategy and cyber workshops specifically designed for SMEs in Lancashire. We’re passionate about seeing Lancashire business become more cyber-aware and innovative and so offer funded places for companies to come and learn how to defend, innovate and grow their business. Additionally, we have an experienced technical team ready to help you with your business innovation ideas, particularly around cyber and digital innovation.

To find out more about how your business can access support or register on one of upcoming workshops, contact us: 

About the Author

Geraint Harries

Before starting at Lancaster University over four years ago, Geraint had worked in software development roles in IBM and the Civil Service. In addition to being a qualified teacher, Geraint has worked freelance with a varied client base as a software developer and graphic designer. 

Interested? Email us

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest updates on news and events from the Lancashire Cyber Foundry team.

By filling in this form you register for our e-newsletter, which will help explain the programme and how we could benefit your business. Registering does not place you under any obligation, and you can unsubscribe from communications at any time using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our newsletters. Lancaster University will hold and use the information which you supply in line with our privacy policy.

Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
ErrorHere