Our world is facing a tsunami of change. As business leaders, you have the option of riding the wave of change on a surfboard of innovation and creativity. Or, you can bask on ‘comfort zone’ beach as usual and wait to be swamped. Because contrary to popular belief, there is nothing mystical about innovation. It is within the reach of all of us, when we look at our enterprises through Rowan Gibson’s “4 Lenses of Innovation.”
1. DARE TO CHALLENGE ORTHODOXIES:
At your next strategic review – or better still… this week, take the time to reconsider all of your traditional beliefs about your business and how it operates. Orthodoxies are business-as-usual writ large. Apply ‘what if …..?’ systematically to each of the set patterns that are everyday ‘rules’ in your company and business sector. Business history is littered with examples of beliefs and assumptions that simply weren’t valid, once an outsider, a competitor or even your customers saw an alternative product, method or service. It’s not that orthodoxies and standard operating procedures are bad. We could not create wealth without them. It is complacency and mental inertia that can blindside us, just when we think things are going well.
Get your team together as soon as you can and list out the significant trends, fashions, and fads that have occurred in your business in the last decade. This exercise will make very clear the fact that the future is not a straight line from the past, through the ‘now.’ Limited straight line thinking is small time thinking. Innovators see more and have an alternate perspective on things.
We’ve never had so much data, nor so much pure business intelligence to work with. As leaders, we need to take an overview and constantly scan the business environment for the next wave. You must ask repeatedly ‘what does this mean?’ for our customers and our way of doing things.
The only way to still be in business 10 years from now, is to adapt at the same rate the world is changing. The next ‘big thing’ is already out there on the horizon. All breakthroughs start small and go unnoticed by most of us. Only innovators – who are constantly learning and looking to make the new connections from disparate information – achieve business longevity.
You do not create wealth from your successful business without combining and operating all resources efficiently. OK, so you are mixing the people, technology, and capital (both physical and financial) well.
But ONLY innovation can get your company cruising in 6th!
Consider these 3 thought-provoking questions:
- What if you expanded the boundaries of your business? For example: Is there warehouse or office space unused for long time periods?
- What if you exploited EVERY asset available to you? For example: Is your IT capacity in standby outside of working hours? What talents do your people have that you aren’t recognizing yet?
- What if you connected to other outside resources? For example: Which mobile apps and social network groups complement your business? (Or indeed, which are undermining your traditional customer base? What can you do about it?)
Download my free white paper, ‘Thriving in a Matrix World,’ because it contains a blueprint for systematically creating an innovation culture in your company.
4. UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER’S LATENT NEEDS:
So many things we take for granted today were never overtly expressed as needs by anyone. Think of the thumb keypad, then the touch-screen keypad. Or electric car windows and self-parking robots. The creators of these amazing servo-mechanisms made connections after observing and interrogating the world in action. They listened in order to understand and realized the latent needs, present in every situation. A key question to ask is ‘what’s wrong with this …?’
A crucial early step in ‘Thriving in a Matrix World’ is to get all your people to list out their chronic problems and frustrations, not just in work but also as customers and consumers.
Innovation is a skill that can be taught, practiced and perfected. Like a second language or accountancy, it has its own mindset, techniques, and approach. It is a ‘force multiplier’ for wealth creation.
Call us at PBC for a free consultation on any of the thoughts provoked in this issue.
This originally appeared in my December 2015 Newsletter.