Getting Innovation Right

Throughout the year we’ve been talking about innovation. Innovation equals success. Innovation is about adding value to your organization and to the marketplace. As the year draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect how you can position your organization to leverage the marketplace and add value.

In his book, Getting Innovation Right, Seth Kahan's theme is the best ideas are useless if they don't add value. Kahan highlights suggested activities for leaders in order to drive success for their innovations in the marketplace.

1. Pursue and leverage inflection points - those dramatic and decisive shifts in your relationship with the market whether positive or negative. Anticipate them and use them to your advantage. Positive ones can grow your base, increase you offerings and customer loyalty, and improve your place in the market.

2. Build innovation capacity. Developing new products and services has a stress factor. Does your organization have what it takes to channel those pressures and turn them into productive use? Strong innovation leaders do this through strong internal leadership, exceptional talent management, and robust idea management. They manage critical forces, talk to the right people, build partnerships, and hire and develop people who understand and embrace the power of innovation.

3. Collect intelligence. The best innovation rises from a sea of products, services, customers, competitors, and internal equities. Your intelligence gather efforts should start with the interrelated areas of customers, market conditions and organizational capabilities. Be sure you’ve defined the scope, determined your goals, conducted interviews, consulted sources, and performed your due diligence. Gathering and applying pertinent information must be an on-going effort to enhance the quality of your strategic decisions.

4. Shift perspective. Challenge your own assumptions. They may be constraining your ability to see new opportunities. Get out from your own box. Listen to your employees, partners, customers and competitors. Seeing the world through new alternatives and points of view helps to identify opportunities to pivot into a positive inflection point that will drive success.

5. Exploit disruption. Disruption is part of business life today and it can come from anywhere. Just like conflict, if it’s ignored or mismanaged, it can be disastrous. Successful leaders identify the opportunity embedded in adverse conditions and exploit it – disruptions such as customer challenges, industry change, fierce competition and new business models. Turn turmoil to your advantage.

6. Generate value. Value is what causes people to separate from their hard-earned cash, drive investors to invest, and shoppers to shop. It’s a perceived benefit – such as the value of brand (Coke vs. Pepsi). Skillful innovators understand what drives value, what it looks like to customers and all their stakeholders, and how to generate by delivering something more, better or new.

7. Drive Innovation uptake – customer acceptance of a new product or service. When you align your innovations with what your customers value, they become your ambassadors. Every stage of the innovation process holds opportunity to introduce new ideas into the market and engage your customers. Working together you move from a mere transaction toward a generative relationship.

To help his readers get innovation right, Kahan provides tools and techniques, templates and guidelines, and step-by-step instructions. If you’re thinking of what you want to accomplish in 2016, this may be a great place to start!


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