Words, simple random arrangements of letters, can be the most powerful force in the universe or a squidgy morass of meaningless emptiness. Words can inspire faith, words can move mountains and words can be the greatest source of disappointment as they promise much and leave nothing behind.
How many times have business leaders promised their people and customers alike that this business is different, that it cares for its customers, that its employees matter, that the business is entering a whole new era of growth and excellence? And how many times have the words simply not been backed up with action? In a homogenised world in which every business can draw on the same technology and whizzy gimmickry, in which customer feedback is available at the touch of a button, in which the “how” matters far more than the “what”; in this world in fact, words and actions matter far more than the product itself and empty words can only bring destruction.
Moreover charities and third party organisations can no longer stand idly by and ignore this transformation in the marketplace. Long gone are the days when all a charity required was an aim, which tugged at the heartstrings of the population. Times are tough and the lines between what is offered by charity, by government and by other sectors of society have become blurred. To fulfil their aims, charities can no longer be ‘cap-in-hand’ but need to operate as businesses first and that means embracing 21st century competitive advantage in exactly the same way as any other organisation.
And how do charities, businesses and organisations step into this new era?
Quite simply with one word – Innovation.
Hold On! Before anyone rushes off and tasks “you, you and you” to innovate, it’s not quite as simple as that. 21st century innovation is not about shuffling a few people into a corner and telling them to think of new things. 21st century innovation is about a whole new way of working, infusing the entire organisation, people and processes, with the essence of innovation. It requires words such as vision, insight, change, empowerment, experiment, position, challenge, creativity, adaptation and agility. It means throwing aside marketing speak and mapping out a set of values and behaviours to drive innovation and exceptional customer experiences.
Most importantly, transforming any organisation to embrace innovation requires the leadership to fully embrace the concept of innovation and to induct it into the organisation in a structured way. Far too many organisations start at the end of the process. The CEO and the leadership team need to develop the innovation strategy, which is linked to the main organisational growth strategy and the most fundamental question of purpose and “why do we exist?” They then need to sponsor, empower and train middle management so that they can embrace innovation and ensure it permeates throughout the organisation.
It won’t always be easy. Changing the culture from punishing failure, to creating experimentation and learning experiences can call for some intense personal development training. Moving employees from “computer says no” to a more empowered “how can we make this work” and “what’s next” attitude may require some fairly intensive training in parameters and consequences. This may be slightly easier for charities where many of the employees already have a personal belief in the aims of the charity but innovation and empowerment is not the same as a free for all and providing an exceptional level of customer service is not the same as giving someone everything they want. So charities still need to train employees in the way in which a strategic approach to innovation can provide the optimum experience for all.
In this new world of ours where will your organisation stand? As a ghostly relic of the past which carries on pumping out meaningless slogans, or as an innovative driving force which goes all out to create exceptional customer experiences.
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… email@example.com