Stephen Covey once used the term ‘white water’ world to describe the state of constant change and everything moving at such a rapid rate. My contributing analogy is that innovation is like traveling at light speed that’s on a winding road. You really have no idea what is coming next. There is an explosion of new businesses literally everywhere and innovation has literally become the name of the business game.
Innovation is about living in a world filled with uncertainty and chaos. Customer research is no longer enough to figure out what people want anymore. There are certainly some fundamental principles which need to be adhered to that really come down to building good relationships with customers. However, at the rate of Innovation in the world today it is still not good enough. The message is that you have to become a fashion business and be remarkable as Seth Godin puts it in his wonderful book, Purple Cow.
Consider for a moment that story of Yahoo and Google. Yahoo was all the rage just a few years ago and although Yahoo is still certainly very relevant it has taken a back seat to Google. What happened? How could this happen? Surely users of the Yahoo technology were satisfied with the service experience etc …How did Google just become the next best thing? Another story is that of MySpace and Facebook. MySpace was around for awhile before Facebook even appeared. It was an original concept that attracted millions of users to it. Then Facebook shows up and not only hijacks but overtakes the number of users
that MySpace had.
So what’s the point here?
Innovation is now the name of the game and it is a never ending initiative. Experts would suggest that organizations circulate through cycles of innovation and optimization.
Meaning that once a certain innovation is out there the focus is really just on optimization until that technology, product, service life cycle comes to an end and then we move back into the cycle of innovation. I suggest that product and efficiency life cycles have become far shorter. The nature of competitiveness nowadays is ‘The Next Big Thing’ and what may be considered to be an efficiency cycle is shortly eliminated by a new and even better proposition. So businesses can not afford to shut their eyes to trends, competitors and new entrants in the market. Certainly the focus of any business should be to become and continue to remain remarkable. But that remarkability is defined by the customer and not by yourself. You may be the flavor of the month today but who knows about tomorrow?
Keeping up with Innovation Checklist
Dedicated R&D – Constant focus on the market – Constant focus on new entrants and experimental technologies – Constant prototype development – Development of quick and dirty testing – Collaboration and information sharing across your organization – Changing attitude towards failure – Encourage a culture of constant learning & training – Get fast, flexible, fun and free – Make efficiency and innovation work hand in hand – Reward Innovation in your organiza
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