Innovation generally refers to changing processes or creating more effective processes, products, and ideas.
According to statistics, 96% of executives have defined innovation as a strategic priority. However, while most leaders have a lot of innovative business ideas, they don’t know how to implement them. What’s more, their direct reports typically don’t embrace change. This is especially true for established companies when optimization of existing business really needs to become a priority. They can become scared stagnant.
Examples of Companies Who Didn’t Act on their Innovative Business Ideas:
From an article published by Valuer
Kodak is a technology company that dominated the photographic film market during most of the 20th century. The company blew its chance to lead the digital photography revolution as they were in denial for too long.
Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer, actually invented the first digital camera back in 1975. “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute—but don’t tell anyone about it,” says Sasson. The leaders of Kodak failed to see digital photography as a disruptive technology.
A former vice-president of Kodak Don Strickland said, “We developed the world’s first consumer digital camera but we could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the effects on the film market.” Kodak management was so focused on the film success that they missed the digital revolution after starting it. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The Kodak failure surprised many.
Another one of those big business examples of failure is Xerox. Xerox was actually first to invent the PC, and its product was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the management thought going digital would be too expensive, and they never bothered to exploit the opportunities they had.
Their CEO, David Kearns, was convinced that the future of Xerox was in copy machines. The digital communication products invented weren’t seen as something that could replace black marks on white paper. Xerox failed to understand that you can’t keep perpetually making money on the same technology. Sometimes technology fails too.
The reality is, according to a recent article from Harvard, “Unless the CEO makes innovation a priority, it won’t happen. Innovation requires a level of risk-taking and failure that’s impossible without executive air cover.”
According to this article, businesses go through a predictable cycle of growth and maturity, often depicted as an S-curve whereby ultimately your unique selling proposition fades, and you don’t see the curveball coming.
So how do you make these innovative business ideas a reality?
Here are some real-world examples of CEOs who have integrated innovative business ideas into their best practices:
- Howard Schultz decided Starbucks had lost its way. He flew in every store manager from around the world to help redesign its café experience
- Google encourages employees to spend a day per week on new ideas
- P&G tracks the percentage of revenues from new products and services
The bottom line is that anyone can innovate.
Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. Bringing innovation into your business can help you save time and money and give you a competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace.
For businesses, this could mean implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products, or improving your existing services. Innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of your business and help you to adapt and grow in the marketplace.
Being innovative does not only mean inventing. Innovation can mean changing your business model and adapting to changes in your environment to deliver better products or services. Successful innovation should be an in-built part of your business strategy, where you create a culture of innovation and lead the way in innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.
Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.
4 Key Steps Towards Achieving Your Business Innovation Ideas
Find areas and ways to innovate in your business through research and planning:
- Conduct a market study of the trends in your business environment. This should include conducting research of your customers’ wants and needs compared with your competitors. A blind market study is great for that. You can also vet new ideas and validate their viability as a part of this study to determine its potential financial impact.
- Conduct IDI’s. In-depth interviews (IDI’s) conducted with an outside research firm are helpful for getting real unbiased information on how customers and employees see your company. You can use this process to capture ideas on improving processes, products, and services both internally and externally.
- Incorporate your new ideas into your strategic plan, make sure you promote innovation as a key business process across the entire business.
- Train and empower your employees to think innovatively from the top down. Consider implementing a reward program for the best idea on an annual basis.
Remember, innovation is the key to a competitive advantage for your business.
While developing an innovation strategy isn’t necessarily difficult in itself, aligning it with your overall business goals and ways of working is what takes most of the time and effort. And, nothing grows forever.