Innovation in Your Organization: Non-Existent, Standard or Automatic?


Innovation in Your Organization: Non-Existent, Standard or Automatic?

The business environment is evolving at an accelerated rate, primarily due to such factors as globalization and advances in information and technology. What used to take 15 years to change, now takes 5 or less. This pace requires a shift in how you think about innovation, because really you have three choices (two of which are undesirable):  innovate, exit or die.

Non-Existent – Inevitable Demise

Organizations that do not include innovation as a part of the everyday business culture will inevitably become non-existent themselves.  Most of the time fear is what drives an organization down this path – fear to make the wrong move because of the current business or market situation, or fear of making an adjustment that negatively impacts any of the existing wins.  Sheltering in place is never the proper move for an organization that hopes to thrive and be successful.

Recently I spoke with an executive who shared with me his organization had not been innovative in more than 15 years. As a consequence, they are looking at a culture that embraces stagnation, a dwindling market share and the looming task of becoming relevant again. Of course, my advice was to act now. Obviously waiting has not worked, and the consequences of not making changes are potentially disastrous to the organization.

Standard – The Bare Minimum

Perhaps it’s not a matter of not innovating, but an issue of only innovating as a reactionary response to the competition and the fluctuations in the market. While this is one step ahead of the previous concept, it still causes the organization to always be one step behind the competition. How do you know if you are reacting rather than being proactive? Perhaps you are utilizing Innovation Days, where you spend only one day focused on the changes needed to really attempt innovating your organization. Or perhaps it is not a part of your regularly discussions. If your organization is not placing an emphasis on innovation infused as part of the culture, then it is time to ask the tough question – are you really innovating, or are you doing the bare minimum with the hopes that you can stay afloat?

If an organization truly wants to win, they must place themselves at the forefront of their industry.  Doing so requires strategic initiatives around relentless innovation that become part of the overall culture. To be truly successful, there’s no other choice than to achieve innovation domination.

Automatic – Innovation Domination

Experience shows that to dominate any market, your organization must make innovation part of the culture, an accepted inclusive formal process. By empowering every individual within the team, you will elevate the collective intelligence of the entire organization thereby elevating the entire organization’s knowledge and tactical employment based on building a culture of cross-functional collaboration ultimately leading to culture of innovation domination.

Expanding the knowledge of everyone’s area of expertise will elevate and accelerate the process. Infusing innovation and converting it into a habit within your organizational DNA could be the smartest business decision you’ve ever made. A more motivated, cohesive and focused organization is capable of proactively adapting and winning in any market condition.

An Innovation Makeover

Whatever your industry may be, individuals and organizations are constantly coming up with new and better products, techniques and methods. Ask yourself, is your organization reacting to or leading the industry that you’re in? If you are not consistently at the forefront of the trends and new technology development, you need to make some changes. Instead of being driven by the changes occurring around you, it’s time for the rest of the market to react to you. This happens when you choose a culture of relentless innovation.

I believe innovation must be a way of life and business. The continuous exploration for ways to improve is an inherent element of being human.  The habits that build innovation muscle not only help anticipate trends and solve problems before they happen, they also increase resiliency when you need to react quickly.   To be truly effective, innovation has to be a formal process and a key component to a culture of excellence. So now it’s time to answer the question – what’s your business innovation strategy? Non-existent, standard or automatic?