On Mar 23 2023 / by Chantel Anderson

Parkable’s guide on innovating in today’s economy

Table of contents

  1. Recognize the key constraints
  2. Create a strong innovation climate
  3. Why you need to prioritize innovation in your workspace
  4. How tech can help with innovation goals

With supply-side constraints and the effects of COVID still lingering in key markets worldwide, resources are running thin for many organizations as companies prepare themselves for the economic ambiguity ahead.

Despite fears, innovation is more important than ever before.

According to Mckinsey & Company, innovation is “the key to postcrisis growth.” Supporting innovation-led growth can have lasting benefits on a workplace’s future growth. For example, “organizations that maintained their innovation focus through the 2009 financial crisis emerged stronger, outperforming the market average by more than 30 percent and continuing to deliver accelerated growth over the subsequent three to five years.”

The same McKinsey report also stated that over three-quarters of executives recognized the onset of the crisis in 2020 created a significant amount of new opportunities. While this percentage differed depending on the industry, the sentiment remained. 

Keeping a workplace running and even thriving is possible amid current macroeconomic headwinds. New business models grow from disruption, and this can be seen now. “Disruptive innovation is a process by which a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge well-established organizations,” writes Harvard Business School.

Recognize the key constraints

First and foremost, it’s important to identify where you’re limited in terms of resources. Over the past few months, Parkable has spoken with many of our clients and gained insight into some of their ideas on how to maintain innovation while battling budget and resource constraints.

Before a project has even begun, map out where you may run into some issues. Workplace or facilities leaders must understand which aspects of the project they’re completing might be affected or run into road bumps. Asking who, what, when, where, why, and by how much is always a good starting point.

Getting a scope for limitations allows you to seek out innovative projects that work with the resources that you have more of. And, if you have fewer resources in another area, that’s when you can get the team together and let creative ideas flow.

Research has found that although there is a wide misconception that innovation is only possible with the removal of obstacles, steady capital and minimal resistance, that might not be the case. In fact, after researchers observed around 150 cases, they found individuals, teams, and organizations all benefit from a healthy number of constraints.

Specifically, “having too few input constraints breeds complacency;” having a “moderate level of input constraints, however, frames the task as a greater challenge and, in turn, motivates experimentation and risk-taking.”

Create a strong innovation climate

An innovative climate encourages creativity and innovation within an organizational environment. Looking deeper, to create this environment, leaders must “[reframe] adversity as an opportunity.” Workspace and organization managers must also have the ability to be resourceful amid constraints. When approached and executed well, it’s also often “the secret to progress, and often, their high-impact innovation.”

“It is important to realize that the same constraint may be interpreted in different ways: as a motivating challenge or as a frustrating roadblock,” writes Oguz A. Acar, Murat Tarakci, and Daan van Knippenberg in The Harvard Business Review. It’s important for managers and leaders to leverage their leadership abilities and help employees frame the challenge as something positive. By doing this, chances are you’ll boost creativity and collaboration, which will make way for innovation.

A common response from our Parkable clients when it comes to innovating in a resource-constrained environment is implementing tech. Although it seems counterintuitive to invest during this period, adopting new technology can actually enable cost recovery, as it can make up for the shortcoming of older tech or human processes.

Let’s use Parkable as an example. By implementing our platform into their parking lots, TAB, an entertainment giant employing over 60,000, actually reduced the amount their team was spending on manual admin tasks by 14 hours every week.

In order to do this, though, leaders and managers need to empower employees, ask them to think big, and stress that there are no bad ideas during the brainstorming process. Encourage collaboration and teamwork to create a more supportive workplace environment. Finally, reward those who push the creative envelope.

However, this is definitely easier said than done. Specifically, McKinsey reports that more than 70% of enterprise transformation efforts fail, resulting in huge losses of investment, time, and trust. Barriers include:

With that, some tips on how to effectively create an innovative culture and implement innovative initiatives within your workplace include:

  1. Aim to solve a problem: Pursue issues that require solving within the workplace, encouraging creativity in applying a solution to a specific workplace problem. Innovation needs to be aimed in a specific direction; it cannot be purposeless.
  2. Take things one step at a time: Gartner suggests “plan and execute small activities that get you a bit closer to your desired goals.” This way, you can see small improvements as you go.
  3. Be realistic in setting goals and targets: Especially when first beginning your workplace’s innovative journey, it’s important to manage your expectations.

Our team at Parkable has created a much more detailed guide here on how to create, implement and stick to change within your organization.

Why you need to prioritize innovation in your workspace

“An innovative and thoughtfully designed workspace can increase employee engagement, productivity, and overall company performance.” says WeWork’s VP of product and commercialization.

While it’s important to balance both human needs and resource constraints when considering changes in the workspace, innovation can work with constraints rather than against them.

For example, if your workspace has limited parking options which are causing employee frustration and problems in the office, you, of course, can’t necessarily just get a whole new parking situation. But you can work with what you already have, and consider a new parking management system, instead.

This is a scenario applicable to a platform like Parkable.

Take The National Restaurant Association (NRA) as an example. Like many organizations since the onset of the pandemic around three years ago, The NRA has put in place a flexible WFH policy. This saw spaces being underutilized; however, it also created an opportunity for the team at NRA to find opportunities to better their work environments to incentivize their teams to return to the office.

“We wanted to make the return to the office as easy and seamless for staff as possible, and that starts with the morning commute. With Parkable, we’re able to offer reservable on-site parking to all of our DC team members, which reduces the stress of coming into the office,” explained Sarah Kane, The NRA’s Project Lead.

Today, staff at The NRA can get to work without worrying about whether they’ll be able to find a park when they arrive. On top of this, The NRA management doesn’t have to spend hours manually managing and recouping costs on their staff parking. Post-Parkable, The NRA has improved their employee experience, reduced the amount of admin work associated with managing their carpark, and maximized the value of their parking real estate.

How tech can help with innovation goals

When it comes to implementing an innovation climate, it requires a collaborative and creative culture where employees, ultimately, can be creative. Part of helping foster this culture is helping your team automate and streamline their work, so they have the bandwidth to contribute to innovative solutions.

Looking deeper at the impact of TAB implementing Parkable in their car parks, with our platforms streamlining their admin team’s work, that team has saved 670 hours (84 business days) every year on the car park. This allows administrators significantly more time to focus on other important business tasks.

As an executive vice president of a Fortune 500 company explained, “Innovation is driven neither by processes nor systems; it’s generated by human talent … If a team is creatively blocked, a first step for leadership is to examine whether the processes that surround people are holding them hostage in their thinking.”

While issues cannot always be solved in a linear fashion, for almost every problem, there will be some constraints, which to a certain degree, if framed the right way, can actually benefit teams and companies. This is especially relevant in today’s economy. However, these constraints also provide structure and direction when it comes to finding newer, more creative, and potentially disruptive solutions.

With the right technologies and collaborative and resourceful culture, there are many ways for your organization to respond to hybrid working. And finding the best strategy specifically for your team must be the first step.

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  • Make better use of your space
  • Align your parking with a flexible working culture
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