The Everyday Importance of Innovation and Change
Innovation and ‘organizational change’ planning are critical leadership activities no matter the business climate. In good times, such focus helps you stay ahead of competition and on top of dynamic market trends. In tough times, it helps your keep revenue streams flowing and business relevant. Innovation and change need to be topics of discussion at every strategy meeting and leadership retreat.
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
W. Edwards Deming
Innovation is key to business growth...and change (either voluntary or involuntary) is key to business survival. It's difficult to innovate without change...and hopefully any change includes some innovation. Certainly, the current economic and health climates have expedited both innovation and change, no matter the marketplace.
From my professional experience, people often overthink innovation. They look for game-changing, disruptive innovation and accept nothing less from themselves. They swing for the fences and thus undervalue incremental innovation. Don’t get me wrong, disruptive innovation is great, but true disruption comes around maybe once or twice in a career. Incremental innovation is more doable. It still requires thinking out-of-the-box, doing things differently, etc., but in more bite-size portions.
Where’s the best place to innovate? That’s the $64,000 question. Since every business is different, one answer won’t fit every situation. But in general, business owners might want to brainstorm strengths, weaknesses, untapped opportunities, market changes, internal processes, lost business, supply chain problems, etc. to decide on the best focus area.
Try brainstorming with employees. Many heads are better than one. Such efforts by other companies have resulted in projects focusing on:
Reducing product time-to-market
Reduce development costs
Improving sales cycles
Internal process efficiencies
New payment terms for customers
Starting or improving loyalty programs
Implementing flex hour and/or work-from-home programs
“Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.”
Robert C Gallagher
Coming up with an innovative idea or solution is the first step. Implementing the change is just as hard. There will be many forces (both internal and external) resisting your efforts, but implementation is doable with the right strategy and intestinal fortitude.
Here are some key things to consider when implementing change:
Create a clear plan - Create a plan that sets the path and cadence for implementation and communicate, communicate, communicate. Ensure everyone understands the plan and the goals. Explain the ‘what’ and also the ‘why’. Explain it once and then say it again…and then tell it once more.
Speed is your friend - Make the change a priority and implement as quickly as possible. Nothing good will come from delaying the change process. Rip off the band-aid quickly.
Get people involved - Make the goal clear but get implementation ideas from others. People more readily accept change that includes their input. Delegate with accountability.
Set up metrics and a monitoring plan - Ensure behavioral changes stick through metrics and a continuous monitoring plan. Everyone needs to understand this isn’t something that will go away in a month. Delegate with accountability.
Celebrate - Award the team for a successful implementation. Change is difficult, no matter the situation, and success should be celebrated.
Innovation and change implementation are arguably two of the most difficult tasks in business. There isn't a cookie-cutter recipe that works for every organization. But in today's dynamic business environment, it riskier not to try at all.
OnTarget Strategy is a Colorado based business management and strategy consultancy helping organizations implement change today...for a successful tomorrow.