Innovation is No Longer Optional For Organizations
ALT TEXT: Man sitting innovating
If I were to conduct a mass survey of business owners, managers, and leaders, and ask them if they understood the benefits of innovation – their answers would be very similar.
They’d rattle off stuff like:
- We could achieve higher customer satisfaction and loyalty
- We could improve the longevity of our organization
- We could add protection against disruption
- We could enhance employee satisfaction
- We could boost revenue and profits
- We could reduce waste and expenses
What’s interesting is, even though they all understand the value of innovation…
Almost none of them are actively pursuing it or investing in it. And that’s not because it’s not essential.
There are plenty of things that get in the way of innovation. In fact, for a long time, big organizations could get away with not pushing the needle. But it’s 2020 and innovation is no longer an option for organizations who want to thrive — even in the short-term.
It’s just the way things are these days, and there’s no getting around it.
When innovative businesses take the lead in any industry, they immediately become the target of countless competitors vying for their spot at the top.
It’s a constant battle of who can conquer the status quo and provide a better experience or solution to their customers.
Organizations who try to ‘sweep it under the rug’ are the ones who get replaced. No matter how large or small they are.
It’s survival of the fittest. And it is happening in every industry, and there’s no escaping it… especially in today’s world where customers constantly crave the next best thing.
Customers don’t care which organization wins or loses. They’re loyal to the brands that continue to innovate, while they continue to innovate. If they stop, they’re gone. If they continue to invest the time, talent, resources, and skills required to stay innovative, they’ll stay the champion for longer.
Sure, you could argue that organization has always been this way… and you’d be right! But it happens a hell of a lot faster these days.
If you tracked innovation over time, you’d find that the further in history you go back, the harder it was to innovate, and the longer change took. Fast forward, and you’ll see a very different story.
Today’s organizations are up against a whole different beast. What used to be a mouse, is now a 300-pound, muscled-up gorilla — and he doesn’t care about ‘why’ you’re not innovating.
Don’t believe me? That’s alright… but you can’t deny the facts.
Studies Have Proven Disruption Is Accelerating
There are plenty of examples of the rapid increase in the disruption that’s caused by innovation.
To reach the levels of mass adoption (50 million users) and market dominance that previously took telephones, aeroplanes, automobiles and light bulbs anywhere from 75 to 46 years to achieve, is almost 10 times quicker today according to The Wallstreet Journal.
Let’s use the internet as an example.
What would have taken decades to achieve in the past, took Youtube, Facebook, Twitter less than 5 years. In some cases, apps like Angry Birds reach mass adoption and market dominance in as little as 35 days.
Now, you’re probably thinking ‘That’s tech… My organization is different.” Sure, it’s more common in the tech space… but it still applies to every industry.
According to Innosight’s study on the pace of creative destruction, the longevity of large, successful organizations on the S&P 500 is the shortest it’s been in history. In case you don’t know, the S&P 500 includes a whole load of organizations in just about every industry you can imagine.
Here are the numbers so you can see for yourself. It’s mind-blowing how fast the market has changed!
ALT TEXT: Chart of innovation change
- Terrifying Realisation #1: In 1958, the average lifespan of organizations on the S&P 500 was 61 years. In 2011, it was just 18 years. I’d bet in 2020 we’re going to be looking at around a 10-year lifespan for the kinds of organizations that used to be “too big to fail.”
- Terrifying Realisation #2: Even without acceleration, the current rate of churn would mean that 75% of organizations listed currently will have been replaced by 2027.
If those stats shock you into a cold sweat, you’re not the only one.
So what’s the good news?
Those ‘doom and gloom’ figures don’t mean YOUR organization is destined to fizzle and sputter out of existence. The way I see things, and the way I want you to see things is…
Innovation is no longer optional. It’s simply a requirement for sustained success.
Today, the guaranteed path to failure is achieving success once and trying to ride that wave into the sunset. What worked today will almost certainly be your ‘Achilles’ Heel’ tomorrow.
Luckily, all you’ve got to do to thrive is continuously satisfy your customer’s ever-increasing demand for novelty, change and progress. Which, if you have the right approach isn’t that hard — and can be a heck of a lot of fun!
The Smartest Way Forward
The Innovator’s Guide To Success
Now that I’ve busted some myths and explained why it’s so damn important to take innovation seriously… I’m going to give you a bunch of actionable, insightful ideas you can start using right this minute.
I want you to go into this open-minded and make sure you understand that innovation is something everyone and every organization can do.
It’s not some mystical, rare result that only the best organizations and teams can achieve. Like anything, innovation is a skill. It’s a practice that with the right tools, frameworks and mindset, can realistically be achieved.
Innovation starts with harnessing the power of peoples imaginative capacity to think differently, to look at the way you’re doing things, and find a far superior solution.
If your organization has been around for a while, you’re bound to have patterns and procedures that are ingrained. Breaking free from these can be extremely difficult if you don’t have a process for doing so.
To make this as straightforward as possible, I’ve gone ahead and broken down the problem into 3 focus points. I’ve also included some actionable tips you can apply to each area to start making progress.
ALT TEXT: Time’s role in innovation
Numero Uno: Time
As a leader, you must increase your organization’s odds of successfully innovating — a journey which requires time. There are two factors involved in the time department, and both are equally important.
- Allow time to create ideas. Innovation doesn’t just happen, yet most organizations don’t provide people time to spend on it. Leaders need to assign dedicated teams or provide existing ones a reasonable amount of time in their workday to put towards creative thinking, innovation, learning and adapting.
- Give ideas time to mature. Innovative ideas take time to test, time to package and time to catch on. Some even require multiple phases of evolution before they blow up, and everyone calls them an ‘overnight success.’ Regardless of how quickly or slowly they succeed, the leadership must be patient and committed to the process.
Want to learn more? Check out this article where I go into more detail about how time, and how you can use it to drive innovation.
ALT TEXT: Resources in innovation
Numero Dos: Resources
Without the financial and intellectual resources required to innovate, it won’t happen. Just asking teams to think differently won’t drive progress. They need the right tools, framework and resources to make it happen. Here are a few examples:
- Set aside an innovation budget. Innovation costs money, there’s no way around it. Dedicating funds for innovation is essential whether the economy is high or low at the time. Put some money into running innovation experiments and research, even offer employees rewards for good ideas. It’s an investment in your future, not an expense.
- Upskill your team. Even with all the time, space and resources needed to innovate… your people will quickly stall without the right tools and techniques. Offering training to employees to help them think more creatively, see things from different perspectives, test ideas, and get them ready to go to market. If you don’t have that capacity internally, invite an innovation consultant to help you lead the way.
Want to give your people the resources they need? Check out this article where I go into more detail about how.
ALT TEXT: Making space for innovation
Numero Tres: Space
A dancer can’t dance without a dance floor. If you want your people to solve your innovation woes, you’ve got to carve out space for them to do so. What does this look like?
- Create a culture of innovation, where ideas can be openly shared, and employees understand that the most significant risk to them and the organization is a failure to challenge the status quo — not the opposite. Even if the idea is not implemented, the employees should be encouraged to suggest all ideas.
- Add innovation and creativity to the agenda. Either by including it as part of meetings, running dedicated innovation events, making solo efforts, or bringing in an outside innovation partner to lead the way.
- Create shared or private spaces where people can either get together or get away from each other and come up with new ideas. If you need inspiration, innovative tech organizations are great role models for this.
- Try assigning team members to new jobs once in a while. Occasional, temporary job swaps can allow your team to approach problems with a fresh perspective and increases communication between departments.
Want more ideas about how to create space? Check out this article where I go into more detail about this part of the innovation puzzle.
Your Path To Innovation
Future-proofing your organization and ensuring your organization is one of the few who survived through thick and thin is straightforward.
All the leadership has to do is ensure their people are self-motivated to innovate. That way, they’ll be able to come up with new ideas and solutions before their competitors do.
This alone would minimize the chances of being disrupted and allow your organization to create massive value in the marketplace.
Start Innovating Today
I put together this article to help you understand the value of innovation, and give you some ideas you can use to progress towards it. For those who want to go beyond ideas, I offer innovation services and coaching that’s proven to accelerate innovation in organizations.
If I were to conduct a mass survey of business owners, managers, and leaders, and ask them if they understood the benefits of innovation – I guarantee 100% would.
Yet… almost none of them are actively pursuing it or investing in it.
That’s not because it’s not essential… it’s because they don’t see it as URGENT… which couldn’t be further from the truth!
Disruption is accelerating, and organizations that want to survive MUST take action.
If you’re serious about innovation, check out my latest post about why it’s mandatory in the modern economy.
#innovation #collaboration #creativity