“Innovate or die”.
It’s a phrase that’s been attributed to various sources.
But regardless of who was the first to say it, it’s certainly an accurate principle in the business world.
What is Innovation?
Simply put, “innovation” is another word for “change”.
However, “innovation” carries with it nuances of meaning that make it a stronger word than “change”. Innovation suggests a change that is characterised by originality and some degree of immensity. In other words, innovation isn’t about mundane or inconsequential changes. Innovation is about meaningful and even disruptive changes.
Why Innovation in Business?
As I said before, in business, the maxim is “innovate or die”.
The reason for this is that the marketplace and business world are forever changing. Your business must change with them. Businesses that don’t innovate risk being left behind.
You don’t need to look far to see examples of what happens to businesses that fail to innovate. Just think about Uber and the decline of traditional taxi companies, or the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and other similar products vs the last time you saw a Motorola “brick” phone. In both cases, the innovators have thrived, while those who’ve failed to innovate are struggling to survive.
One main approach to innovation in business is disruptive innovation. This is about driving business growth by creating and offering new products or services that are simpler, more convenient, easier to access, or more affordable than their predecessors or than those that your competitors are offering. Uber and the original iPhone both clearly fall into this category.
Strategies for Fostering Innovation
So as you can see, you need to innovate in your business. And you know that one effective way to do this is through disruption innovation. But how do you foster and encourage this kind of innovation in your organisation?
While it’s not a comprehensive list, you’ll find a few key ways to encourage innovation below:
- When it comes to fostering innovation, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to establish a budget for innovation. This may including funding for research and development, and consumer research.
- Once you have a budget for innovating, you need to motivate the people in your organisation to strive for innovation. While financial incentives may have their place in motivating your team, even more important is creating a culture of innovation and creating the inspiration to innovate. This will often be a top-down process, with those at the head leading the way and encouraging those below.
- Another important approach for encouraging innovation is to form teams whose purpose is to create, strategize, evaluate, and carry out innovative projects. These teams should have a clear purpose and clear guidelines to help them fulfil their mission.
- Training is essential. Train your managers and project team leaders and members in entrepreneurism, disruptive thinking, and change strategies to give them the keys they need to deliver the innovation you’re seeking.
- Of course, in order both to manage the innovation process, and to train your people to innovate in the first place, you also need a manual or guide that outlines procedures, templates, rules, and requirements for evaluating and implementing innovation.
Success Through Innovation: A Case Study
The steps I’ve described above were all implemented by American company Proctor & Gamble – to great effect.
At the turn of the millennium, Proctor & Gamble found that its Tide laundry detergent brand wasn’t growing fast enough. To foster the growth they were looking for, the company embarked on an ambitious disruptive innovation drive. And the results speak for themselves.
In only 10 years, Tide’s revenue very nearly doubled. The brand expanded its market share almost exponentially, with new products and businesses combined with improved penetration in other markets.
Proctor & Gamble’s systematic approach to innovation – which involved each of the recommendations I covered earlier – transformed the business. Tide is no longer a brand that’s simply surviving. It’s thriving. And it’s all thanks to a decision to foster innovation in the Proctor & Gamble organisation.
Innovate or Die
Innovation works. Not just for world-famous brands like Uber or Apple, but also for regular companies, and even small businesses.
So don’t claim it isn’t for you. Commit today to fostering innovation in your business today by following the steps described above!
If you’ve been working to foster innovation in your business, what steps have you taken? What success have you seen? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’re about to start on your business innovation, which steps do you plan on implementing first? Why? Let me know in the comments.