Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death
Recession, technological advances, bad judgement, lack of finance, market forces; call it what you will but when we look back at the business road littered with the corpses of failed organisations it’s a fair bet that we wouldn’t have to look far to find those which have simply plodded unseeing and unknowing along the way to dusty death.
Being honest, it’s not really hard to see how that could have happened either. Man is a creature of habit; we like the known, the familiar and many a business has traded successfully over the years under the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But the trouble is that when the world moves on those businesses are left behind and what once was a bright and shining star is quickly relegated to a dusty corner of an ever more out of reach marketplace.
Even those businesses, which profess to embrace the future continually, crash against the twin barriers of managing today and ingrained culture which bind and ensnare until the drive towards innovation is lost in a morass of uncertainty and disbelief. The past influences the culture of today and for most organisations, managing the present always takes precedent over managing the future.
In a meeting with a well-known UK client recently this was highlighted even more so when the history of the organisation was repeatedly celebrated, which on one hand it should be. However, not if it is disproportionally valued in relation to it’s current market position. Clinging on to that nostalgia is currently crippling the creative, innovative and future focus of the organisation to its detriment.
No change of any significance in the past 10 years and now a without question need for innovation to be a fundamental part of today, tomorrow and the future in order that the competitor filled ‘horizon’ doesn’t creep up on them.
But, for those organisations, which are prepared to step outside of the comfort zone, to embrace innovation and the culture it requires the future is less of a dusty death and more of a heady adrenaline rush of excitement and achievement.
So, here’s one of the more fundamental questions I ask clients that I’m advising; “how much are you actually prepared to change and are you prepared to accept the reality that you might have to change everything?” The journey may not be easy but in truth there is no other option. If an organisation wants to compete in the 21st century then it has to be ready to deal with complexity and uncertainty. Every organisation has the capacity and capability to drive innovation but the habit of yesterday is almost an addiction and is hard to break. That’s why some of my work as a strategic advisor on innovation focuses on helping organisations to go ‘cold turkey’, to break the link with past habits and embrace new behaviour required for the future.
Breaking that link with the past means accepting that innovation requires a completely new way of thinking and doing. Do you celebrate a decade in business or do you look back at the last ten years in which you’ve provided the same product and level of service and wonder why your competitors are now steadily drawing away? Are you focussed on business as usual, driving time efficiency and managing the day to day or are you stretching the boundaries with new ways of operating? Some of the work I’m doing with clients at present is around modelling what I call “Next Generation Organisations” and what is required to break free from the bonds of the past and embrace innovation. Core aspects are obviously a robust innovation strategy but the three main drivers as I see it are insight, collaboration and agility. CEOs and leadership teams need to embrace these if their business is to really change.
In short, if you want something you’ve never had before (innovation) you’ve got to be prepared to do stuff you’ve never done before. Simply plodding on doing the same ‘stuff’ tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow has only one outcome. Innovation is ‘the’ key to future growth and competitive advantage in the 21st Century. Without innovation, differentiation in the world we operate in and that to come will be impossible. If you believe that statement then my challenge to you is simply:
How much are you actually prepared to change?
Everyone says they want or even need to innovate but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few, myself and my team can help you get there.
Got a question? Ask me… email@example.com