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Embracing innovation in your business is not just about introducing new technology, but about modifying your mindset. Tony Addiscott GAICD, director of research and innovation at Metator, says for businesses innovation is a fact of life and that companies have only one option: “change or be changed”.
“This reality makes innovation essential for long-term survival, unless a competitor comes up with a disruptive breakthrough, in which case the business may fail in quick time,” says Addiscott.
He says there are four traps that can prevent a shift to the right mindset, including being fixated on the status quo and concentrating on short-term thinking at the expense of long-term goals. He also warns against looking for only “quick fix-type” incremental innovations, without also considering potentially market-changing breakthroughs and cautions business owners to be careful not to ignore the meaning of change, the rate at which it is happening and the impact of those changes on the business environment. The bottom line is, if you let barriers get in the way of innovation, your business will ultimately fail.
Addiscott says innovative leaders are willing to listen to input from all their stakeholders, in particular employees and customers.
“Investing time and dollars into innovation in a business without the right, positive, motivated culture will likely be a wasted effort,” he says. “Innovation always flows from the right mindset and the ability of leaders to lead. They need to spend much more time looking outside of their own business for strategic and thus innovative guidance.”
He suggests businesses consider the forces that drive change in the marketplace and then ask themselves some leading questions to identify opportunities for strategic innovation:
The proliferation of ‘me too’ products impedes differentiation and tends to force prices (and margins) down.
Question: How is commoditisation affecting us today and how is it likely to affect us tomorrow?
2. The digital revolution
Exemplified by the impact of cheaper computing power on global corporations.
Question: How will increasing digitisation impact on our company and how can we better use it to enhance communication with our customers?
3. Social media
Social media platforms are here to stay.
Question: Where is social media going and what opportunities/challenges does it offer us?
Your business may not operate globally, but business threats (and opportunities) exist that transcend national boundaries.
Question: What does globalisation mean to us and what opportunities/challenges does it offer?
5. World turbulence
Changes in social, political and economic values and their effect on the world.
Question: Are we vulnerable to global events and will they present us with any opportunities to innovate?
6. Accelerating rate of change
Humans have always been innovative, but now it’s at an ever-increasing rate.
Question: Are we keeping in touch with the changes in consumer preferences and attitudes that are being fed by global change?