by: Ted Curtin, EVP Marketing & Innovation, ProdigyWorks
Innovation is one of an organization’s most important competitive strengths. It’s an organization’s ability to anticipate and identify new opportunities, adapt to changing conditions and respond to change quickly. The pace of innovation today is relentless and with competitive threats, emerging technological trends and changing consumer preferences, the cost of not innovating can be devastating for a company.
It starts with the alignment of your leadership team. Unfortunately, many companies fail to unleash their most valuable resources: human creativity, imagination, and original thinking. Innovation gets plenty of lip service, but companies often lack the necessary resources and organizational commitment. It requires more than just a polished mission statement.
Some companies realize that the quickest path to realizing breakthrough innovation can be found outside of your four walls. External innovation – when done right – helps you get past the internal obstacles that can impede innovation. Other organizations just need a way to harness their own internal creativity to effectively drive innovation. But to build an effective internal innovation culture, companies need to be aware of some of the barriers preventing them from breaking through.
- Lack of Vision/Purpose
- Process Focus vs. Customer Focus
- Scarcity of Time/Resources
- Cultural Belief that Innovation is Risky
While there is no one technique companies can use to combat these roadblocks, there are certainly ways of improving the chance of successfully driving innovation:
Purpose – The nature of innovation is to be able to look towards the future. That requires a strong sense of vision and purpose. Every leader has to operate in the present and focus on results, but great leaders know that looking ahead with purpose, will dictate whether an organization can survive market shifts, competitive threats and thrive into the future.
Customer/Market Awareness – Similarly, organizations with a customer-centric focus are more in tune with their customers’ needs and desires. Innovation often requires looking beyond what you do and, instead, look to what the customer really needs. Other organizations tend to focus on internal issues that may be irrelevant to your customer.
Experimentation – Easy to say, but maybe harder to embrace. Fear cannot cultivate creativity. This is about leadership that fosters a culture of encouragement, where employees are not afraid to try and not afraid to fail! In this type of environment everyone feels comfortable questioning and challenging the Status Quo. Innovation isn’t free. It requires time, resources and experimentation, but it is far riskier not to invest in innovation.
Collaboration – The successful leader that embraces innovation knows that innovation can come from anywhere in the organization. They also realize that successful innovation is a “team sport”. By creating an atmosphere and physical pathway for collaboration, and minimizing politics, leaders set the bar for what internal teamwork can achieve, encouraging everyone to bring their unique set of knowledge and skills to the table. Working together and encouraging these differences gives birth to new ideas through the blending of unique viewpoints.
Whether companies utilize the expertise of outside resources or look internally to develop their innovation strategy, it is vital to make sure that it addresses the needs of the consumer, embraces diversity, and recognizes cultural biases that often prevent breakthrough, sustainable innovation.
At ProdigyWorks, we tap into new sources for innovative solutions, quickly generating breakthrough ideas and solving complex problems for companies across a diverse range of industries. Originating as a partnership with Mensa more than 10 years ago, ProdigyWorks is a unique, global, high-IQ network that takes incredibly diverse combinations of the world’s smartest and most creative thinkers and unleashes them on brands’ toughest innovation, futuring, naming and product development challenges. Learn more how rapid, high-level, outside thinking leads to smarter, meaningful innovation.