It’s rare these days to come across a business that doesn’t refer to itself as innovative.
Unfortunately it’s become a far too common marketing term used without any real accountability attached or underlying evidence.
True innovation is a clear comparative advantage in an increasingly globally competitive environment. It is incredibly valuable not just for the company itself, but for the end users of its products or services.
I would argue that consumers, investors, employees and other stakeholders are becoming more discerning and sceptical when they hear a company play the “innovation card”.
They want to see the facts before they can take the company on its word. Innovation can come in many forms but the one consistent thread that enables its ultimate success is investment.
For a technology-focussed company like REDARC, that investment equates to approximately 15c in every dollar generated in sales each year.
It’s a significant expense on the balance sheet but provides a strong return on investment.
Research and Development is crucial to our existence and in maintaining our reputation as an industry leading designer and manufacturer.
We continually upgrade our equipment, often well before the recommended shelf life, so our engineers have access to the latest
technology to push the R&D boundaries even further.
Innovation comes from real investment in your people and your emerging leaders.
We have grown our engineering, design and testing team by more than a third in the past year and have a structured professional development program in place to foster further education and upskilling. For us, it’s also about building formal partnerships beyond the business walls and into universities and other education institutions.
Great leaps in innovation are also achieved by chasing the “one percenters”.
For example, fostering a workplace culture where staff are not satisfied with the status-quo but instead encouraged to suggest ways to improve productivity, adopt new thinking and take calculated risks.
Any staff member that takes the time to highlight a current productivity roadblock or potential new market opportunity deserves to be heard and acknowledged. As such, all suggestions require formal investigation with personal feedback provided regardless of whether they are implemented or not.
So next time, a company tells you that they value innovation, ask them how.
Anthony Kittel is the Managing Director and Owner of REDARC, an Australian advanced manufacturer and exporter of high quality power conversion products and off-grid battery power solutions used in recreational and non-recreational vehicles across an expanding range of global industries.