Innovation Success - Five Keys


The world’s best run companies are great innovators.

In contrast, poorly run companies struggle mightily at it.

They struggle with deciding where to invest scarce new project time and resources.

Then if they are able to decide, they then struggle to actually launch and start those new projects.

 And even if they are able to get them launched and started, more often than not they just don’t work out, are abandoned, and sadly...

 ...positive business change and growth just doesn’t happen.

Here are five keys to avoid this sorry “no innovation” fate:

 #5. Choose Wisely. For existing businesses serving existing clients (i.e. not startups), it is almost always better to take on just a few “change” projects at a time.

Whether it is a web site redesign and relaunch, the development of a new product, an implementation of a new sales or operational software, a rewrite of job position roles and reporting lines, the pursuit of outside financing, or really anything that is not “business as usual,” it is unrealistic to expect to sustain long-term focus on more than just a couple of “proactive” projects like these at a time.

Instead, it is better to invest more time beforehand to determine which new initiatives are most mission critical and have the highest potential ROI.

And  to then execute them sequentially as opposed to in parallel.

#4. Know Your People. Conjuring up and doing “new” things is not a talent that the majority of those working in business possess.

This is often especially true in smaller, founder-led companies where the main leader is a highly creative individual who then tends to hire more process driven folks to execute upon all of their great ideas.

Unfortunately, this “I dream, you do” dynamic can result in big communication gaps opening up so much so that key innovation and growth projects get off track often as soon as they get started.

Instead of getting frustrated, the founder / entrepreneur should identify the people in their organization NOT designed to take on new things (the Gallup Strengths Test is great tool to do so) and then...

 ...don’t give them any new things to take on!

 #3. Get Outside Help. The natural corollary to the above is to "let in" the deep and wide world of outside consultants and service providers of every stripe, and just hire them to drive the needed new stuff forward for you.

What is particularly cool here is that it is often far easier to demand and get results from outside contractors or consultants than it is from one’s own employees!

#2. Designate an Internal Change Agent. When budgets allows, hiring a person to be a company’s “Change Champion” can be a great best practice.

This person should report directly to the CEO and be empowered to "run roughshod" on and over any bureaucratic bottleneck, excuses, and less-than-stellar effort from those folks charged with leading key change initiatives.

The most effective change champions have the emotional makeups of sports coaches - they find the balance between "tough love," accountability and positive motivation.

And just the very act of having a person like them in the organization is a powerful signal that a company is “walking” its change and innovation “talk.”

#1. Toughen Up. When it comes to breaking through business as usual, we need to fully recognize the magnitude of the change challenge and then commit to the more resilient attitude needed to just get it done.

“Toughening Up” is a full life commitment.

We must physically and emotionally take care of ourselves in order to sustain the necessary energy to get change started and to keep it going.

And we must not tolerate weaknesses or excuses - neither in ourselves nor in our co-workers, employees and contractors...

...not from a place of “blame” but rather from one of inspiring all in our orbits to be their best selves.

Once authentically made, commitments like this build momentums of their own.

As we build more of this change muscle, new initiatives that once got stuck in the business “mud” now sail smoothly through.

And almost in an instant we and our companies are transformed...

from “heavy and slow” to “light and nimble!”

Need Better Innovation in Your Business?

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