Silhouette of man throwing away rubbish

What valuable resource is your business wasting?

With so much emphasis on environmental responsibility, many business owners spend money implementing sophisticated waste reduction schemes but many important resources are still overlooked. 

Taking steps to reduce consumption of physical resources as is an important step for any business seeking to improve their sustainability, but have you ever considered what other resources you might be wasting?

A huge level of resource wastage seems to be accepted when it comes to people, technology and innovation.

People seem to assume that wastage is a necessary by-product of innovation – much as they used to accept it in the manufacturing process. By falling for the temptation to see innovation as an exception to the rule, businesses are failing to apply the readily available and sensible controls that exist in this space.

By giving these areas the same level of attention you give to managing your environmental consumption, you can significantly improve the efficiency of your innovation practices, and the business outcomes you are achieving.

Consistent application of some basic innovation management and innovation governance enhancements will help direct your valuable resources to where they will have the greatest positive impact on the future of your business. Like any learning path, you can fine tune once the basics are in place.

There are two areas that I recommend focusing on, to start with, if you want to conserve resources and save money:

1. Risk Gates

A simple starting point to grow your business more effectively is to set acceptable levels of wastage at each phase in a concept-to-production development process. This will flow on to guidelines on the level of risk that is acceptable at any given process gate.

To pass through the gate to the next step in the process, project realization risk needs to be mitigated to fall below the boundary. The goal of early project phases is to ensure that projects don’t attract the big dollars of later phases until the risks have been explored and eliminated.

2. Small projects, big outcome

In most cases, big-ticket projects involve higher risk than smaller projects. The ideal risk / innovation profile is a portfolio of many, small, vision-lead projects managed to ensure learning and staff development at every stage.

Presented well, it can be seen as continuous improvement – setting a positive culture of change and a group wide commitment to better business outcomes. Although the smaller projects may not be as enticing as big, high-expense ones, they may offer better value for money outcomes in the long run.

And, just as you would continually assess your environmental impact, do the same with your innovation investments, your vision and your staff.

Remember to fail early, fail often and absorb lessons learned. Hold the big resources for the projects that have been tested, remain strong and involve your people in positive change.

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