Many companies presume that innovative activity is limited to research and development or personnel with advanced scientific degrees. Although these people are important to an intellectual property strategy, every person in an organization is a potential innovator. Innovations often solve problems or improve an existing product or service. Everyone is able to identify solutions, even if the implementation or development of the solution is not their primary role.

Example. The company’s salespeople often receive feedback from customers and potential customers. These comments may include issues or missing features with existing products. A salesperson must understand the importance of reporting that feedback to the company. In addition, the vendor should be encouraged to share their own ideas or suggestions for solving a problem or implementing a new function.

Educate all staff. Educating all staff on the value of innovations to the company fosters a “team environment” and increases the likelihood of identifying important ideas and suggestions. Additionally, encouraging different groups within the company to work together to create and implement new ideas strengthens the business. For example, if a customer service representative learns of a desired feature from a customer, that information is provided to the Product Development Group, which develops the new feature. The Marketing Department then promotes this new feature to increase sales and deliver greater value to existing customers. Therefore, various groups within the company can work together to take advantage of the innovations.

Look everywhere. Innovative ideas are not limited to products or services created by the company. Internal procedures, such as manufacturing processes, marketing procedures, and sales techniques, are subject to creative ideas. An innovative idea in your company’s manufacturing process can save money, increase quality, and improve efficiency. Therefore, it is important to teach people about innovation in all areas of the business.

Companies can encourage creative thinking by offering recognition and rewards to company innovators. Brainstorming sessions, innovation contests, employee bonuses, and related activities are important aspects of a successful IP strategy.

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