When The Going Gets Tough – 2. INNOVATE

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Innovation is the activity of people and organizations to change themselves and the environment. It means breaking routines and dominant ways of thinking, introducing new things and behaviours, launching new standards.

Anything new surely means breaking the status quo. But it does not necessarily mean that one changes products completely or processes completely. Customer delight must be at the core of all innovations in business. A better product/service, making it easier for consumption, making it cheaper, better availability, etc. are all innovations. Another important aspect of innovation is that people who love status quo are likely to object to it. All those who need proof-of-the-pudding cannot support it. When the going gets tough, such businesses or people find it hard to support you anyway.

When the chips are down for the makers of cars or a 5-star hotel or a stock broker, they need to think hard on customer delight. For, when the tide changes, there will be new leaders, new products and newer ways to live life. Your market share, product mix, sales and profits will depend on how well you are prepared for future. No one can stop the change from coming. David Bowie said it beautifully when he mentioned, ‘I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back.’

And change is happening rapidly. Elon Musk, the poster-boy of innovation currently, is thinking atleast 10 – 20 years ahead. To succeed, there needs to be a bit of Elon Musk in every entrepreneur!

World’s category leaders often have their limited lifespan. For a mummified version of this reality, a visit to Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon, South Korea must be on a bucket list of every entrepreneur. A visit to this Museum will establish the rapidity and inevitability of change.

Innovation is a team work. It germinates under specific conditions. Create that environment in your organisation. Encourage the entire team to innovate. Make innovation a top priority and not an “all-hands” job requirement, give people the training, time and place to innovate. As an entrepreneur, take risks on behalf of teams to innovate.

During challenging times, it is the innovation that helps you cross the tunnel. Every customer will demand more at a lesser cost. Organisations that are able to do this, come out of this dark tunnel unscathed. The other side of the tunnel is the leadership waiting for you.

Speaking of leadership, look around you. All leaders in business have this one thing in common. They have been able to make living more comfortable for their customers through fearless innovations in recent past.

It does not matter whether your innovation is sustaining or disruptive. It is important to innovate.