Oktober 7

Navigating the Road to Innovation & 21st Century Competitive Advantage

The humble sat-nav may have its critics but for the majority of motorists it has brought them the freedom of the road, enabling them to properly plan and execute their journeys for the first time. Yes, I know of the tales of unfortunate lorry drivers who have found themselves stuck down country lanes with no way back; and yes I read the recent story of the motorist who was spared jail as the judge considered that his fatal accident would not have occurred if the sat-nav had been switched off; but in general, sat-navs plan your journey from A to B whilst guiding you around the pitfalls on the way.

In my last blog, ‘In pursuit of innovation’, I introduced the way in which organisations can learn from the sat-nav approach when they set out to build a culture of innovation. And it’s not rocket science, just a simple three-stage process; identify where you are, know where you want to get to and map out the route to take you there. Unfortunately, many organisations ignore the first and last parts of the equation and simply set off trying to come up with innovative ‘stuff’. They assume that as long as they call for ideas then innovation will follow but without a roadmap people become discouraged, clashes between established routine and those trying to innovate will become frequent and the desire to innovate will crash in a welter of bruised egos and expensively failed projects.

There’s no denying that organisations have the appetite and need for innovation. A recent Accenture survey (Innovation Survey – November 2012) reported that 93% of companies believe that their long-term success is dependent on their ability to innovate. Yet in a similar survey only a third of organisations had a formalised plan in place to effectively drive innovation forward. That means that there are a lot of organisations, which are either starting their innovation, journey in entirely the wrong place or simply don’t know where to start.

„Successfully driving growth through innovation is no longer as simple as launching new products, it’s about designing the right mix of Insight, Collaboration and Agility in order to create powerful ideas and deliver differentiated customer experiences.“
Cris Beswick

Insight, collaboration and agility; taken together these three combine to produce what I call ‘Next Generation Organisations’, ones which focus on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ and which use innovation to provide an exceptional product and exceptional customer service. In essence they amount to:

  • Insight – an increased focus on insight and new approaches to gathering it from customers/consumers and markets and how organisations use it to create opportunities.
  • Collaboration – an increased focus on collaboration with customers/consumers and how organisations use it to build connections and design differentiated solutions and experiences.
  • Agility – an increased focus on agility and the ability to adapt and how organisations use innovation to deal with uncertainty, complexity and the pace of change.

Most importantly, innovation is not the preserve of the few but should be infused across the entire organisation. Recent history is full of high profile examples of innovation failure or failure to have a proper approach to organisation-wide innovation through a lack of focus on insight, collaboration and agility. For example, Kodak designed the first digital camera and stood by while Sony stole the market; Xerox designed the first PC and stood by while Apple and Microsoft have gone on to dominate the market. When organisations like these get innovation wrong it’s easy to see why bankruptcy and liquidation reside just around the corner.

But getting the innovation pathway right can be simple if you follow the sat-nav lesson. Start with creating a strategy around the vision, purpose and why you exist as an organisation. Then align that strategy to the growth ambition of the organisation to get a parallel plan of attack. That way, everyone in the organisation knows what the future is going to look like and where to focus their efforts. Then focus on leadership and creating the right environment and atmosphere for innovation focused behaviour to come alive as well as defining the culture you’ll need and mapping out a plan to get there.

Only once you’ve followed the identification and planning pathway should you focus on the ideas side of things. Then you are truly on the way to instilling a robust and successful innovation culture, the natural by-product of which will be the continuous creation of powerful ideas and the delivery of differentiated customer experiences.

“Differentiated Innovation, Differentiated Leadership & Differentiated Culture for Next Generation Organisations.”

Everyone says they want or even need to innovate but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few, I can help you get there.

Got a question? Ask me…cris@crisbeswick.com



Innovation Culture, Innovation Leadership, Innovation strategy, Leadership, Strategy

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