Looking up at four tall buildings from ground


'Putting Innovation into Action'

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

What is Innovation?

At hgkc, we define innovation as ‘something different that creates value’ and an innovative culture is ‘where new ideas flourish and where employees feel their voices are heard, their impact is felt, and their mark is left.’

(Eat, Sleep, Innovate, How to make Creativity an Everyday Habit inside your Organisation by Scott D. Anthony, Paul Cobban, Natalie Painchard & Andy Parker) You can find more information about Eat, Sleep, Innovate and the authors on their website.

Innovation is the process of positive change to the core business that leads to growth. It is about adapting to a new climate, culture and way of working. Its purpose is to reinvigorate your business and create new value by applying change to products, services, policies, and processes. It can be achieved by improving existing methods or by starting from scratch through the development and application of new ideas and processes.


McKinsey released an article stating that there are eight essential attributes to innovation that are present in high performing companies. These are:

Aspire – creating an aspirational vision and strategic plan that is linked to financial targets.

Choose – start experimenting with multiple projects and choose 1 or 2 to invest more money into whilst dropping the rest.

Discover – discover insights that engage your customers by finding a problem to solve, the technology that creates a solution, and the business model that generates money from it.

Evolve – businesses need to evolve and reinvent themselves as technology and markets grow and change.

Accelerate – accelerate the process of innovation to maintain an advantage over competitors whilst avoiding unnecessary risks.

Scale – by calculating the suitable magnitude and reach of an idea, scale your innovations appropriately to be continually successful.

Extend – innovation requires external collaborators. Extend your network and make the most of their knowledge and expertise throughout different stages of the innovation process.

Mobilise – innovation needs to be embedded into the core of the business. Setting targets and defining market spaces for innovation will help to mobilise your organisation and improves focus.


For more information read Mckinsey's full article.

Floating clover over hand
Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

Why is Innovation Important?

Innovation is important for you to keep up with competitors, technology advancements, and the ever-changing market. It will help you to get ahead of potential disruptions to your business, and can be used by you to drive industry disruption. When innovation transforms an entire industry, the changes impact everyone, customer, suppliers, and manufacturers. Advances in technology and digital transformation such as the invention of the smart phone completely disrupted its industry. The mobile phone became a computer that was small enough to fit into your hand and give you access to the internet and any information you’d need. Another example includes online encyclopaedias, no longer were people having to spend hours manually researching and going to the library to borrow a book to find what they need. Instead, they could just go online. These examples affected their industries on a massive scale and have shaped the world today.


Benefits of innovation include:

  • Better growth – rethinking your products or business models can lead to quick expansion and the ability to scale up.
  • Staying relevant – your business needs to be able to adapt to the changing world and innovation allows you to adapt and remain relevant, otherwise you may end up losing out to your competitors and threatening obsolescence and the prospect of having to shut down.
  • Increased efficiency – innovation helps reduce the cost of your business processes, make them more sustainable and less time consuming. These will help your business adapt to industry changes and market shifts.
  • Adding value – innovating and improving your business is vital for success. Innovation adds value to your business and can help you stand out from your competitors and be memorable for your clients.
  • Enhanced brand perception – companies that continually innovate are more likely to increase their customer loyalty and retention. Consumers will view their brand positively, particularly if they are repeatedly meeting their ever-changing needs. Customers can also be a partner to your innovation ecosystem and directly contribute to creating value.
  • Increased talent attraction and retention – more than ever employees (particularly young adults) are wanting to work for companies that create a high impact and will help them have a bright future. Continuously innovative companies are more appealing and are more likely to have greater retention.


Innovation allows businesses to explore new revenue opportunities, the chance to optimise existing channels and ultimately generate higher profits. Innovation can also help you prepare in case of unexpected changes such as a pandemic or political or economic crisis.


hgkc follow McKinsey’s Three Horizons of Growth when it comes to innovation and strategy. The Three Horizon’s help a company to focus on growth and innovation using a framework that categorises your goals in 3 different ‘horizons’. These are:  

Maintain and Defend Your Core Business

This includes all activities that are aligned to your current business; your day-to-day processes and immediate revenue making.

Nurture Emerging Business

Taking what you have and extending it into new areas of revenue driving activity. This includes launching new products and expanding into new markets. There may be a cost, but it should be reliable as you are extending your current business model.

Create Genuinely New Business

Introduce new elements of business that do not exist today. This includes research projects, pilot programs, or potentially entirely new revenue lines that will require investment.


The Three Horizons creates stepping stones between running your business profitably and growing it for the future. Categorising your innovative activity in this way helps you balance your focus between your current business needs, the future of your business, and the steps you need to take between then and now.

Joe Quintana discusses innovation with Kim Jones, hgkc founder and director.

To know more about our expert team have a look at our Who We Are page.

Different Types of Innovation

There are many different types of innovation that your business can implement, and it is important you choose the right one that aligns with your business goals. 


  • Product Innovation – creating new or enhancing already existing products to be more user-friendly and introducing new technologies.

  • Process Innovation – helps your business to be more efficient by developing new ways for your company to deliver its products and services. This can be done by changing techniques, software, or equipment.
  • Business Model Innovation – introducing new ways of making and saving money by improving already existing processes and services; building new relationships with partners, suppliers, or distributors; implementing new technologies, or outsourcing specific tasks, with the aim of increasing your company’s profitability.
  • Revenue Model Innovation – this type of innovation focuses on increasing profit. This looks at re-evaluating the products and services you offer or updating your business’ pricing strategy. This is not a radical form of innovation but by changing only one element you can generate results.
  • Marketing/Delivery Innovation – new ways in which a business advertises and sells its products and services. This can be done via price changes, new packaging and alternative ways in which the company promotes its business to its customers. A business can implement a new way of interacting with their customers by improving the channels used to communicate with and sell to them. These channels can include direct sales, distributors and online sales.
  • Industry Model Innovation – a radical and ambitious process where businesses attempt to change their industry for the purpose of meeting future needs for customers through a disruption. Industry Model Innovation can also include creating a whole new industry for themselves opening a new wave of opportunities for a business. Uber and Airbnb are recent examples of companies who disrupted their industries and created new business models that are influencing new businesses. Uber made an easier, cheaper, and more modernised way of ordering a taxi via a click of a button and Airbnb challenged the hotel industry by providing more choice for people, as they effectively made every home available. Furthermore, Airbnb also simplified the reservation and check in processes.
  • Organisational Innovation – creates opportunity for strategic change at an organisational level that leads to big changes in internal practices and external relationships, resulting in improved performance. Organisations work to establish an innovation culture to improve processes and innovation capabilities in their people and business.


To learn more information, you can check out our Innovation blogs

Digital Innovation

Co-founder and expert consultant at hgkc, Peter Quintana, Emerge Digital's Managing Director Tom Henson and their Head of Technology Christopher Shanks, have combined their expertise on Digital Innovation to help businesses gain some clarity. They created a webinar in which they discuss digital transformation and the implications for businesses embarking on this journey. It’s a wide-ranging conversation with insight embracing the Three Horizons, First Digital’s Innovation Committee, BEANs, (you’ll have to listen to find out what BEANS are) and a practical diagnostic tool to help you get started.


Download the Challenge of Innovation Worksheet and watch our webinar.

Leaders and Innovation

How to Foster Innovation

Innovation is important for every business and leaders need to foster innovation in their companies. Business leaders need to think creatively and embrace innovation in their business models by building it into their strategic and operations planning. It is important for companies to undertake research and development activities, investing in resources that will promote innovation.

Business leaders need an understanding of how to go about bringing innovation to life, however, they are not the only ones who are involved in your business. Leaders need to encourage their staff to be creative and share their ideas. Rewarding innovative thinking can inspire and motivate your employees and seeking feedback directly from your customers will help future innovations.

Leaders need to take calculated risks that require their businesses and staff to adapt, change and respond quickly to new opportunities.


Take our North Star Diagnostic and discover where you are now, where you need to go and how ready your business is for your innovation journey.

Change in neon lights
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Innovation Problems

The idea of change for any business can be daunting, especially when major change is required in times of crisis. Many companies struggle to be innovative, and Acclaim Ideas state that there are 10 key blockers that businesses face when it comes to innovation.


  • Conflicting goals within the organisation

Without a clearly defined set of goals, your business is going to struggle. No one will know what the end target is, and your managers could be aiming for one result whilst your employees are working towards another. 

Ensuring that everyone knows the bottom line of the business is vital for effective innovation and setting out SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) will help your company to succeed.


  • No clear definition of innovation

    There are many different types of innovation and if your company hasn’t established what’s relevant for them, then it can cause problems within your business. 

    Whether you want to develop new products or to change the way in which you deliver your services, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page and has a clear idea of what innovation means to your business.


    • Lack of innovation skills

    Businesses today are powerhouses of creativity. Instead of relying on everyone in the company, some leaders tend to depend on a few people to be innovative. Your staff need to be encouraged to be innovative. It is important to get your people involved and listen to their thoughts and ideas. Do not be resistant to change and employ people in the business who know how to inspire others to innovate. People need help to tap into their creativity and knowledge and they can learn to hone these skills and build up their confidence. Your team need to understand what innovation means in your business, it is not all about new inventions, innovation is something different that creates value.


    If you want to know more about the creative potential of your people – check out hgkc's partner DISCsimple and find out how to tap into your team's potential and create the environment for them to flourish. 


    • Lack of structure throughout the idea generation and implementation process

    Great ideas can come from having your team gathered in a room and bouncing their thoughts off one another and capturing ideas, such as writing them all down on a whiteboard. However, without any structure, these group sessions can become chaotic, everyone is talking over each other, not everyone gets their say, and great ideas can be missed. It is vital for any business’ success to have structure when generating and implementing new ideas. Without it, ideas can take unexpected turns and become something completely different to what was initially intended. 

    Ensure all members of your team are on the same page and that there is a defined order and structure to meetings and the process. Know where these sessions fit and how they contribute to your innovation plan. Not all ideas arise in the group and meeting space so it's essential to have structure and processes in place to capture individual and distributed teams' contributions.


    • Changing the organisational culture and status quo to support innovation

    The entire purpose of innovation is to enable change, to bring about growth in a way that advances the business and ensures that your company reaches its goals. However, people can be averse to change, especially when they are used to the way things are. 

    Some of your employees and managers may be against changing the way your business works, however, it is essential that you communicate with them that innovation is key to success, the future of the business and that they are encouraged and supported to bring about change.


    • Getting senior management to support new initiatives

    Sometimes a new venture can be difficult for some management teams to get on board with. New initiatives can cause problems as long-standing senior management may be reluctant to embrace a new way of working and resort to what has worked for them in the past. 

    To ensure full support from your management teams, work with them, include them in decisions and help them to feel a part of the new initiative. Include them in the development and training programmes and reassure them that your new initiatives will help the success of the business.


    • Getting employees to embrace innovation

    Similarly to senior management, some employees may fight against change. If they are asked to take on different responsibilities that were not necessarily in their original job description it can cause problems. Communication is key, listen to the concerns of your staff, support them through the process and encourage them to get involved as your business adapts to new innovations.


    • Proving the value of innovation

    When you and your team have come up with something new to help improve your company, it can be hard to prove its worth, to your team, to your suppliers, and most of all to your customers. To ensure that your innovation has value, it needs to be solving a problem, making things easier for your staff or being more user friendly for your clients, all with the aim of business growth and turning a profit. To prove your innovation is valuable it has to be filling a need that makes your business unique and stand out from your competitors. 

    Samsung uses its customer feedback on new product releases to help them develop methodologies for solving problems and Patagonia has activism at the heart of its clothing business, one of their many campaigns included supporting very young people to be climate activists through films crated for Climate week. Their innovations are generating value and thus serving a need that ultimately helps their businesses grow.


    • Disagreement over who has accountability for innovation in a business

    When it comes to who “owns” innovation it can depend on the type of innovation you are pursuing. Product-led businesses tend to have specialists responsible for R & D and close relationships with the Production and Sales functions. There are many ways to organise, and some companies employ innovation managers to oversee the process.

    Innovation is strategic, and people champion its cause giving responsibility to everyone in the company. To avoid conflict, the most successful businesses collaborate, and every department needs to work together to launch their new innovations, whether a new product, service or a new business model is being introduced.


    • Fear of failure

    Nobody wants to fail. You can feel disheartened and disappointed in yourself if you do. However, the fear of failure should not be enough to stop you from trying. It is worse to do nothing than to not give it your best shot. It is no different when it comes to innovation. Business leaders and their teams need to embrace innovation and attempt to adapt to the new world, otherwise they will get left behind. It is important for leaders to create a ‘safe’ working environment where their employees will feel comfortable to come up with and test out new ideas. 

    If you implement a change and realise that it doesn’t work or it has ‘failed’ then you can learn from what you have done. Analyse why this change may not have worked and add improvements, further innovate, and make more changes until it does work. Without innovation, there is no chance of success. Failure is not something to be feared, it is an opportunity to learn and grow.


    For more information, download Acclaim Idea’s report to see how to overcome the 10 blockers of innovation.

    Innovation is for Everyone 

    'Making Innovation an Everyday Habit'

    Everyone can innovate and tapping into that skill will give your organisation a better chance of success. It is difficult to foster a culture of innovation and many managers often discourage their teams focusing on current tasks and short-term needs rather than longer term objectives. How work is incentivised is an important driver and encouraging a broader measure will lead to a better uptake of innovation activity.

    It is important to encourage every team member to achieve their personal best, to come up with new ideas and innovations for the business. Even the smallest change can generate a large impact over time.


    There may be people in your organisation who do not believe that they are innovative. They have put blockers in place to prevent them from thinking innovatively. To encourage innovative behaviour, use BEANs.

    • Behaviour Enabler – the direct way of encouraging new behaviours, creating a method to make your team more comfortable, making it easier for them to do new things.
    • Nudge – the indirect way of encouraging this behaviour. Something that encourages your team do new things without even thinking about it.
    • Artefact – this connects the two. The reinforcement of the new behaviours that your people are trying to perform. These can be digital or physical reinforcements.

    Behaviour Enabler, Artefact, and Nudge – putting BEANs together will help your team overcome their blockers and start to behave and think innovatively.


    Listen to our Find Your North Star Podcast - Re-framing the Future – Leading a Digital Disruption in the Nations Heating – where Helen Isherwood discusses her company Adey and how they put innovation at the heart of their culture.

    View of lights on Earth from space
    Photo by NASA on Unsplash 

    Protecting Your Innovation

    It is important that you are protecting your innovations, especially if you are using it in a way to generate profit. You need to protect your intellectual property (IP) associated with your idea or inventions.


    Protecting your IP gives you an advantage over your competitors and prevents them from taking your ideas and adapting it for their own uses. Avoid making your IP public knowledge until you have protected it. To do so you must:  

    • Research and understand your IP options and choose which is the best route for your business, whether it is a patent, trademark, copyright, or design registration.
    • Avoid involving outside parties to ensure the idea is protected from public use.
    • Keep a record to prove that the idea is yours.
    • Research existing trademarks and patents to ensure that no one else has had a similar idea to yours. If they have, you may not be able to protect yours.
    • Ensure that IP clauses are included in your employee contracts – this makes sure that any innovation created by your staff will belong to your business.


    In protecting your innovations, you are guaranteeing that your business stays ahead of your competitors and your ideas cannot be used by others. IP protection is essential for any business that is continually innovating and growing. Sometimes it’s trade-off over protection from competition, the likelihood of it happening and affordability (to defend your rights and to register the IP). Being the best kept secret is one of the approaches taken – we think of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the mystery around the famous coating for the chicken or the Coca-Cola recipe. Taking the best path of knowing the level of protection appropriate for your business and to ensure your future.

    How We Can Help You:

    • We help our clients focus on the projects that are going to be the most successful for them.
    • We review the projects our clients have in the pipeline and focus on the projects that will help them meet their objectives.
    • Using a Product Road Map, we evaluate their products and help clients get them to market.
    • We help our clients implement a process, building an innovation strategy that helps them grow their business.
    • We help companies to develop an open culture of innovation – ensuring they take advantage of the talent and knowledge from their entire organisation.
    • We clearly define the criteria needed at each stage of the innovation process and help our clients complete what they need to do enabling them to move on to the next step.
    • We help our clients build a bespoke framework for their business guiding them through the innovation process.
    • We support our clients in building their skills, tools, and people, to enable them to run the innovation process for themselves.
    • We use the Pentathlon Model, filtering and prioritising ideas, moving towards the implementation into the marketplace.
    • Our expert consultant Peter Quintana is also a certified consultant of Market Opportunity Navigator which includes 3 steps for setting a winning strategy – Market Opportunity Set, Attractiveness Map, and Agile Focus Strategy. It will help you understand the best markets to take your new innovations to.


    To see how we have helped clients with their innovation, read our TasteTech case study.

    Key Points to Remember:

    • Innovation is something different that creates value.
    • Innovation helps you keep up with market changes.
    • Choose the right types of innovation for your business.
    • Business leaders need to encourage their teams to think innovatively and come up with new ideas.
    • Change can be daunting but necessary.
    • Everyone can innovate – using BEANs will encourage innovative behaviour.
    • Ensure that your Innovations are protected.
    Rippling Water
    Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

    hgkc was born from the realisation that together our combined practical experience and knowledge can offer our clients a broader, deeper and richer experience that will deliver better results faster.