Pressure from competition and client demands make service innovation a must for facility management providers. But which innovation processes characterize the most innovative companies in our industry? And where does innovation come from?
In the words of Thomas Edison, “Innovation is more than simply coming up with a good idea; it is the process of growing them into practical use”. In this context, innovation and creativity is quite often perceived as being something that just comes out of the blue when you least expect it. However, in practice it has been clearly demonstrated that the most innovative facility management companies share four common characteristics that let innovation come to life on a consistent basis.
In the infographic below we have listed the four characteristics:
The design of an innovation structure must take all four points into consideration; the design should build strong processes which draw on internal and external knowledge, recruiting and training internal innovation champions as well as fostering an innovation culture.
To build an innovation process, it is at minimum required for companies to have an understanding of the different types of innovation and manage to create an organisational structure that will support innovation in order to build a best practice innovation process.
The organisational sources of innovation
Innovation can come from many different sources including:
- Operational origins: Companies find new ways of improving or modifying current innovation best practices based on operational excellence and knowledge.
- Problem origins: Companies identify more innovative ways of solving a problem through theory and practice.
- Personal origins: Innovation is based on personal experience, ideas and creativity
- Contextual origins: Innovation is triggered from external sources rather than internal sources. These can include global trends, politics, general business trends etc.
Different origins of ideas and innovation, will lead to different types of innovation. These range from individual learning, to small incremental innovation over to radical innovation.
Best practice innovation
Collecting and adopting best practice is probably one of the best ways to drive innovation throughout a company. When an idea successfully has been implemented within one department, company or a region, it can potentially be transferred to another department, company or region.
Surely, this kind of innovation cannot stand alone, nevertheless it is worthwhile to gather best practices and adopt them in other relevant parts of the organisation.
These new ideas are likely to come from the headquarter or regional offices.
It is unlikely that radical change or transformation will happen at site level, due to the fact that facility management providers mostly deal with incremental day-to-day changes at client organisations.
From that perspective, innovation in facility management at site level is more likely to take form of organisational learning rather than pure innovation in the traditional sense.
One of the reasons for that is the fact that clients often expect better products and services on an evolutionary basis, rather than through radical transformation. This is often reflected KPIs that are primarily linked to being able to deliver a large number of small improvements rather than to alter the way the service is being delivered.
The second factor is that innovation in Facility Management must be rapidly implemented in order to be one step ahead of competitors. This means that service providers must be able to perform continuous innovation to stay competitive.
Top-down driven innovation
Site managers are often concerned about the day-to-day running of the site and usually they also have limited resources at hand. Conversely, large innovation projects often come from outside of the site. Subsequently, top-down innovation often means driven innovation driven out of the headquarter.
The various types of innovation can theoretically take place at all levels in an organisation. In reality, however, only small incremental innovation and continuous learning tends to take place on site level. The other innovation types most often appear above site level.
How do you work with innovation in your company? Share your experiences in the comment section below.
Learn more about innovation in the Facility Management industry. Read our blogpost: How widespread is innovation in Facility Management? or download our White Paper: Service Innovation in the Facility Management Industry.
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