Innovation Decoded

If you want to kill a business,
just kill innovation

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Call it innovation, change, transformation or even revolution, but do it to make your company win the ever accelerating disruptive race in your industry. Plainly speaking: to make your company survive in the change of an era.

Innovation is the core competence – the most critical one – in the fight for competitive advantage. According to our research at ActioGlobal during the last years, more than 80% of executives believe that innovation is a top priority, however, almost 95% believe their organization is not good enough in the performance of innovation. Lame excuse.

54% of companies (start-ups and digital-first businesses) have an issue in bringing business strategy and innovation into line. Additionally, with time, they lose their entrepreneurial energy.

Why is that? Is there a standard recipe to help? Well, no, sorry! Individual companies need individual innovation strategies. However, the first step is the same for all:

Recognize that “We have a problem”, find out why, take measures, then solution.

“What matters is the pace of innovation.
That is the fundamental determinant of competitiveness.”

Elon Musk.

Elon Musk
Founder, CEO and Chief Engineer at SpaceX; early stage investor, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI.

A visionary on innovation, he is obsessed with fundamentally changing the way we live and work. He proved his credo to take risk, reward and unconventional thinking on new levels by Tesla Motors, SpaceX or PayPal and a lot more. Let's fly to Mars - figuratively speaking.

ActioGlobal has developed business strategies and innovation programs for sustained growth and value creation for leading companies all over the world for almost 20 years. Discover in this article our strategy to make the above mentioned 94% dramatically decrease.

“Houston, we have a problem!” – Apollo 13 was helped and so will you, not by Houston but by your own devices.

1. Disrupt bureaucracy

No hierarchy, no long response times, no empowering of only a few on top floor, no maximizing of compliance any longer.

Networks of self-organized teams over hierarchical levels.

2. Rethink leadership

Leadership has the part of the game-changer: defining the strategy, setting the purpose, building and guiding the transfunctional self-organized agile teams. Granting them responsibility for what they do. Rewarding them.

Partnership over clinging to position

3. Never stop human talent

A spirit of entrepreneurship needs to be established. Create a work environment where people feel as if they were the owners of the company. Pursuing only promotion kills innovation, improving to add value boosts it.

Entrepreneurship over promotion

4. Make customers the only bosses

Make them part of your delivering what is needed. Customer loyalty can only be embraced by listening to them, anticipating their demands, making them love your company and your product.

Customer feedback over “we know it all”

Assess yourself!

Innovation without impact is just intention.

This is the “What”, on to the “How”.

The organizations need a culture of innovation:

01.

Set a purpose that drives innovation

Amazon.com: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, …”

Tesla: “… to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

P&G: “… provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers.”

LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

A company’s staff (all levels) must be engaged by values and purpose. It´s a matter of culture.

And of leadership: It´s leaderships´ job to create a culture that encourages staff to invest their time and energy in developing new ideas. Innovative, exponential, disruptive ideas – that might fail. So what. The best of them will work. Finally, it´s again leaderships´ job to make execution happen. Otherwise, it´s a waste of their people´s talent and it´s leadership who will fail to make the company sustainable.

Generation Z demands a meaningful job, they want to leave an impact and a clear purpose will be their North Star. Follow it.

02.

Innovate by rethinking markets

From the Ford Model to Apple, Google, Netflix, Spotify, Uber, Tesla Motors, Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook …. they all created new categories and segments of products/services by imagining a new generation of consumers and shaping their new way of living. So innovative disruptive companies created new sources of consumption. Sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? Again a clear “NO”: being creative is one side of the medal, but it was real hard work that made these new companies succeed. We are not talking about daydreamers who made a billion dollars with a business idea by pure chance. It´s market research, collecting data, observing their flow, evaluating them again and again to finally understand the wishes and expectations of targeted customers, clients, consumers or end users.

It´s about developing an understanding of the new environment, the changed demand of the digital natives and their new habit of buying and selling. “Digital” and “Environmentally friendly” are keywords.

All data collected have to be easily accessible for the teams and leadership must set clear guidelines how to process, evaluate and apply them for innovations. Mind the discussion on processing personal data!

Additionally, examining the behaviour of customers by human-centered research combined with ongoing data analysis provides insight in opportunities that create real value and allows to design concepts.

03.

Make customer loyalty the fuel of new innovation

Of course, not everyone is a Jobs, Zuckerberg or Musk. There is our company, losing market shares with our traditional, proven products/services. Taking risks now? We have a high responsibility for our staff, maybe also to stockholders, and we are no gamblers. But we are game-changers and allowed to experiment followed by testing, testing, and more testing in our markets. This method used by High-Performance Organizations is the proper way to make a concept reality. Add to your innovation-to-be new benefits, new features of customer experience and ask for their feedback (and accept it). Finally you´ll create trust, engagement and customer loyalty as well as value for both your customer and your company. Your business outcomes will prove it. Happy end!?

Since the innovation flywheel naturally has no end, keep it spinning to keep innovating.

Knowing your customers well is essential for you to innovate and create value for them. Knowing your staff well is decisive for keeping the flywheel going.

04.

Innovate the Way of Working

Short and simple: New Work.

Agile? Less narrative.
More impact.

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