Imagine you run a successful business with happy paying customers. Would you just sit back and relax? No! You would be looking at ways to sustain that success, and to become even more successful. You would be innovating all the time, right?
I believe most companies know they need to innovate and many of them realize they should not wait until sales slump and business becomes less successful. However, it happens that companies respond too late to changing customer behavior or find themselves surprised by new competitors shaking up their industries.
If you want to run a successful business on the longer term, you need to fix the roof when the sun is shining.
Companies know they need to innovate and they know they need to do it now. The problem many companies face is how to do this thing called innovation. Each company and every industry is different and has its own specific characteristics. However, here are three principles that are universally helpful.
- Create fertile ground
Many companies have a business unit “Innovation”, but successful innovation needs more than just a department bearing this name. To be structurally successful in innovation, the entire organization must embrace it. Innovation must run through the company’s veins. It is of fundamental importance to develop fertile ground so that innovation can take root in the organization. Innovation needs to be part of a company’s strategy, embraced by its management and supported by its internal processes.
- Innovate systematically
Popular well-known products came about by some stroke of luck. Pure serendipity. But organizations can’t just rely on luck as their source of innovation. The future of a company must not depend on it. What we need is a systematic approach for innovation that continuously keeps pouring new innovative ideas into the innovation pipeline.
- Build an innovation pipeline
Just as companies need a sales pipeline, they need an innovation pipeline. The systematic innovation process of the company generates new ideas that vary in potential opportunity and may require different implementation capabilities. All these ideas are fed in an innovation pipeline where they are further developed and assessed for implementation. This innovation source allows a company to keep quenching its thirst for change.
© Ernst-Jan van Batenburg, FlyWheel Business
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