Give a rousing cheer, set the night sky alight with fireworks; the recession has left the building so it’s time to party! Maybe a little over the top but the news from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that in 2013 the economy posted its strongest figures since 2007, growing by 1.9%, brings hope to individuals and businesses alike. But how many of us are truly poised to take advantage of the recovery? Have businesses spent the lean years in transforming their culture and their offering or have they just clung on in the hope that one day things will get better? What of the future?
I believe that in years to come social historians will cite the past few years as a time of profound change. Not because of the way in which people had to come to terms with the fall out of recession but in the way in which customer and consumer attitudes and habits have undergone a transformation. The time of recession coincided with a leap forward in technology resulting in the twin impacts of transforming consuming patterns and leveling the playing field for business. Those who were unprepared have departed the marketplace; those who remain unprepared have a challenging journey ahead.
The truth is that in a world in which the same levels of manufacturing, distribution, information and technology to list but a few, are available to all, the 21stC differentiator is in the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. Creating outstanding customer experiences by building a culture of innovation is increasingly accepted as the pathway to success. Innovation has firmly entered the lexicon and not just for business either. I have recently tweeted about two different cities, which believe that creating a culture of innovation is the way to prosperity. But amidst all of the ‘innovation’ excitement it can sometimes be difficult for organisations to cut through the babble and work out what innovation truly means for them. Is it a question of simply coming up with new ideas or is it something far more profound, a strategically aligned culture change that infuses every action and interaction?
With this in mind I intend to augment the ‘roadmap to innovation’ articles on my website with case studies; practical examples of fantastic innovation strategies, inspiring innovation leadership and true innovation cultures in action. These case studies will highlight organisations on the cutting edge of innovation, those whose journey is well underway as well as those, which are just starting on their pathway to innovation as a driver of differentiation and growth. Some, such as Zappos, will be well known; but I also want to highlight a cross-section of organisations, which are embracing the ideals of exceptional customer experience through innovation. To this end I would be happy to hear from any organisations, large or small, which are happy to share their journey with others.
Admittedly, building a culture of innovation is personal to the organisation and a pathway, which works well for one, will more than likely lead to disaster for another. But I hope that by sharing ideas, by exploring common themes, we can open up businesses to the vast potential, which can come from using innovation to drive towards the future. Because innovation is not just about ideas, not just about locking a few people in a room and telling them to invent something new; true innovation is about moving from a darkly controlling bottom-line/rules based straightjacket and into the light.
If you want to explore how your organisation can benefit from building a culture of innovation or if you would like to share your journey with others get in touch and let’s talk.