Adopting the best practices for innovation can lead you to sustained business growth and maybe also put you on the list of the biggest change-makers.
We are living in a global economy where what was new last month becomes obsolete the next. Companies that have succeeded in even the most challenging times over the past decade have one thing in common - innovation.
Innovation as a growth strategy works because people love everything new. In the current fast-paced times, the endurance of a product takes a backseat and cutting-edge rules the game.
Liberalised economies mean that competition is not just within the country, it transcends geographies. With the competition being thick, whoever manages to clear the clutter takes the cake. No single company, today, can have a monopoly over technology or product because technology is dynamic. Complacency has been described as a killer of innovation by Forbes. End of innovation could mean the end of business in today’s context.
The fear of risk and failure can set in an inertia in the business. Change, innovation and growth thrive on the ability to take the risk and handle failures. Companies need to make environmental assessments and innovate as per the need of the times.
Finding and filling that essential need gap is what brings continuous growth. Growth is not just about success, it is the story behind that success, the experience of the numerous failures that bring in that success, and the knowledge that is instrumental in sustaining that success.
Continuous business innovation requires a company to follow certain best practices:
Locate the new S-curve
No product, technology, business or market rides the linear curve. The growth and maturity cycle is often depicted as an S curve. Once the best customers are reached and competition increases, the law of diminishing returns sets in. This is where the inflection point might be and this is when companies must innovate. However, there is no knowing when exactly this inflection point will be reached and hence, innovation is a continuous process for most successful companies.
Lean on customers
Customer is the king is probably the oldest cliche in marketing books and yet it stands the test of time.
The best growth companies have their finger on the customers’ pulse. They know what their customer wants. They continuously keep tabs on the changing needs of their customer through tools such as customer empathy map and regular market research. They draw insights from the collected data and use them for innovation. Their lean approach lends to quick creation of prototypes, design partnerships with the important users, and continuous innovation to improve their product as well as business model.
Have an artistic approach
The first look has a lasting impression and this is true for all products. People tend to buy things that appeal to them with the very first look. This fact underlines the importance of having an artistic approach to all things new. Just having cutting-edge technology can only take you so far. Just like Apple’s Jonathan Ive, the key designer behind the riveting user experience that Apple provided, having a designer approach can set you apart from the competition. It provides you a completely different space to thrive in, with few or no competitors. In business terms, you can follow the Blue Ocean Strategy to effectively make the competition irrelevant.
Be a leader
The leading companies across businesses have leaders who lead the way. Whether it is startups or large companies, innovation comes when there is someone holding the light. The degree of risk and failure associated with innovation necessitates cover. Companies like Google give a day a week for ideas and innovation to their employees. Gray Advertising awards the riskiest idea that failed. These companies acknowledge the importance of continuous innovation. No one really knows what the masses will end up liking but no one would if no one innovated.
The biggest change-makers in history are those who have dared to innovate.
They are the people and companies that people remember for bringing to their lives what they would have never thought possible. They are people like Edison, Gandhi, Einstein and Richard Branson and companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Starbucks.
Adopting the above best practices for innovation can lead you to sustained business growth and maybe also put you on the list of the biggest change-makers.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)