In my experience, 70% or more of the attention of most senior executives is devoted to problem-solving, and up to 40-50% of it is on ‘fire-fighting’, resolving big, urgent issues as they arise.
If you wish to gain a stronger position in your market, however, you cannot simply be fixing problems. Instead, you must devote a bigger share of your time and effort to systematic innovation, raise the bar on performance and create an organisation where innovation is a habit and way of life, rather than a strategic initiative.
A systematic focus on innovation requires these five steps:
Make innovation your #1 priority.
As a leader of your business, innovation must be your #1 priority, driving your company’s future growth. If you only give it ad hocfocus, your organisation will not believe that you are serious and will not give it the commitment you are after.
Align your innovation focus with your strategy.
What is the thrust of your strategic direction, and what kind of company are you seeking to create? For many years, for instance, Amazon focused its innovation efforts on three strategic priorities – providing customers with greater choice, lowering prices and increasing delivery speed.
Engage and empower the whole organisation.
Systematic, rapid innovation cannot be achieved by relying on a small team of R&D specialists; it requires the focus and commitment of the entire organisation and beyond (suppliers, partners, customers) if you want to create sustainable growth.
Innovation does not respond well to rigid process management. Err on the side of chaos if you want to create breakthrough growth opportunities for your business.
Commit to action.
There is no innovation without action. You will trip and fail along the way, but the fastest way to success is to avoid seeking perfection. Instead, you should take rapid action, learn fast and adapt your way to growth.
And, if you want to make instant improvements to your level of innovation, here are three initial actions you can make today:
- Critically review your time and identify the % spent on systematically driving and delivering innovation. Identify practical ways in which you can significantly increase this time.
- Reward, promote and recruit those people that embody the principles and skills required for innovation.
- Continuously find ways to involve individuals, teams and organisations – from both within and outside your business – in your innovation processes and projects, maximising the impact of their expertise on your future growth.
Innovation is no longer a strategic option but is a strategic necessity. How many of the steps laid out in this post could your organisation follow to make innovation a way of life for your business?
© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.