Innovation is a Way of Being
Most businesses will say that they wish to be innovative, and that they wish their people would be more creative. Easy to say, much harder to do. So much gets in the way. Meetings, action points, past experience and prejudice, workloads that exceed time available, poor setting of priorities ...inept leadership.
This is where it all starts and some businesses are great at establishing a strong flow of ideas and others struggle to do so. If the start point is that there is really no such thing as a bad idea and if the environment is conducive to idea stimulation then it will happen. In a product or technology environment the idea generators need stimulation from within and externally. Ideas should be celebrated regardless of whether they are progressed. Wrong thinking should be encouraged.
Failing to have an effective approach to generating ideas is the equivalent of opening the door for your competitors to walk in and take what they fancy!
It is great to track vertical growth and to watch the dollars rolling in, but success is rarely easy. It is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. Phenomenal success requires excellent planning and bang on execution, falling short will not get you there. Keeping everyone focused on the big goal, being constantly clear about what you are doing and why, preserving belief at all levels within the organisation. This requires a relentless commitment to communication, making sure that everyone hears the same message and cancelling out dissenting voices.
The easy road is the one that leads nowhere. Competitors will leave you alone if you are not having impact and if you don't disappear as a direct result of your own failed endeavours then they will eventually snuff you out, somehow. But if you are making gains, they will sit up and take note of you. Even if the gains you make are not at their expense they will want to impede your progress and replicate it for themselves. These are the bumps in the road that successful businesses must become accomplished at dealing with. How can apparent adverse actions from competitors be turned to our advantage?
Doing the right thing is not always easy although an organisation that is prepared to square up and make the difficult calls ought to prosper in the end, if the action is the right one for the organisation even if it carries a high level of associated pain. If big decisions are good for the future of the business but bring poor PR then the challenge is for the management team to decide how best to weather the storm rather than to set an alternative course.
Who Are We?
Deciding the answer to this question and expressing it by explaining what is different about you, what do you value, what do you wish to be known for... this is key to preserving that identity. Live the differences that you define you have, in everything. Internal and external communication, everything. Constantly remind everyone around you 'who you are' without appearing to do so. Make it your identity, your business passport.
When things don't work out, react swiftly and effectively. Accept the setback and do not waste precious resources trying to revive a lost cause. It is a signal of strength to customers, employees and competitors when you do this.