It may be difficult to recall in today’s environment, but pre-pandemic business was far from simple. Almost all organizations faced myriad challenges in terms of fierce competition, discriminating customers, longer sales cycles, and difficulty in differentiating their offerings, which were all compounded by tremendous advances in technology and a demand for greater transparency.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, these business challenges multiplied exponentially while unforeseen—and at times unprecedented—challenges demanded our attention. Ensuring business survival has become an ever-present concern while we watch our business as usual processes lose effectiveness.
One day we’ll be able to look back at how the pandemic accelerated forces already in play, changed the way we all live and work, and its devastation of certain industries and business models. However, until that day comes every organization should be aggressively looking to innovate…or prepare to go extinct
While every organization carries a unique set of markets, customers, and business drivers, the innovation process can be universally applied by addressing the following 5 questions:
How congruent is the way you innovate with your vision and appetite for innovation?
Those who embrace creativity and boundaryless thinking are essentially building innovation into the way they operate. Why? Because core to a company's ability to succeed as it iterates and pivots is connecting its vision with an appetite for innovation. The innovation must be an imperative part of your company’s DNA for it to be successful.
How effectively do you articulate your vision and appetite for innovation to your stakeholders?
It’s not enough to just think in a vacuum. To achieve true innovation you must be able to articulate your vision to others. In other words, you need to evangelize the need for different thinking and change for the better. The most innovative organizations do not hesitate to share their innovation goals and progress with their teams, shareholders, customers, suppliers, etc. “Walking the talk” brings it all together for stakeholders and, through group participation, everyone will help your company innovate.
Is innovation a crucial part of your team members’ job descriptions?
We’ve all heard the mantra that “everyone is in sales” and embracing this mentality has benefitted countless companies and their employees. The same holds true with innovation. The companies who are most innovative maintain the mindset that “everyone is an innovator.” They actively engage all team members in exercises and conversations designed to spark ideas on organizational self-improvement.
Do you have the right processes to create and bring innovation to market?
Innovation isn’t a single step process. It takes leadership from the top and support from resources to execute on the innovation imperative. The most innovative organizations create and implement innovation processes, measure results, and iterate off that feedback. It’s from this set of processes that a company develops its playbook for the ongoing development of its best and most creative ideas.
How do you measure ROI and your ability to meet customer expectations?
The best kind of innovations have a direct and measurable ROI (Return On Investment). Some will not be measurable, but will have benefits (such as improved employee morale, increased retention, customer lifetime, value, etc.) and should therefore be undertaken. The discipline of calculating ROI by itself is extremely useful, as it forces a closer examination of various business drivers.
Having ready answers to these five questions will form a good foundation from which any organization can start looking at things differently and innovating its way to greater success.
By Tien Wong, Founder, Big Idea Connectprenuer Forum