As our world becomes increasingly global and we have to compete with a wider number of emerging economies innovation becomes more essential to the survival of your business. But part of the challenge of innovating within a business is that you need to have a workforce that can realise and implement these changes. So not only do you need the innovative idea in the first place you also need to know how to implement it and who will do it.
But innovation is not always popular within businesses. You might be one of the many executives who views the uncertainty associated with implementing an innovation as a disruptive force. Innovation comes from individuals and corporations provide the environment to encourage or stifle innovators. Mavericks fire the imagination but tend not to be good at fitting in to typical hierarchies – and they are often seen as threats to the established masters of politics. So how do you see them? Do you encourage innovation and those mavericks among your staff? Are you for revolution or against it?
Large organisations tend to focus internally on protecting their assets without realising that these assets could be at threat from radical external and evolving business models that are capable of quickly destroying this value. Emerging markets create a steady stream of challenges and opportunities and you as a business leader should base your plans on a hypothetical view of the future, you should gather facts, and create a strong sense of urgency within your organisation to deal with and take on all possibilities. You need to provide leadership that will support and enable local teams to deliver what is needed.
In order to support innovation and meet oncoming challenges you need to accept uncertainty as the norm and to focus on strengthening your agility and resources in periods of stability, so that when an opportunity arises you can mobilise resources to create significant value in a short period of time. The key is updating the picture as it unfolds.
Look at Lenovo – they launched their 486 PC with a 30% price reduction which was only possible through the culmination of actions taken over a decade. But taking advantage of a cumulative series of actions is hard to emulate, but doing this creates the luxury to choose the timing of deployment of your innovation when it hurts most, and at a time when competition will not be able to respond.
Cumulative operations improvements create the luxury of choice. Continual waves of innovation cannot be copied and give you a distinctive advantage, and being at the centre of the toughest markets helps mitigate the risks of predicting what the future will look like. So if you want to lead the way listen to that crazy idea, encourage those mavericks and be open to embracing change and new thinking.