Depending on the degree of innovation of companies, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can divide them in three main groups. The first group is reserved for those companies that never apply innovation to their business. These companies might have been innovative when they started, but that was it. The second group, which is where most organizations are classified, are those that innovate occasionally, measured in months or years. The third and last group are for very innovative companies, which innovate all the time and innovation is part of their organizational culture and DNA.
Innovation by itself can lead to either failure or success. By this I mean that innovation by itself never guarantees success. In fact, when innovation has some problems, companies can loose money, market, status and more. However, this situation can be analyzed as positive, because it can bring very important lessons. The fact is that innovation is an ongoing cycle, where sometimes failure will be the result and other times we’ll find success.
When a company is faced to a big disruptive change, it has 2 options: do nothing or act and innovate. In the first situation, the company will stay put and do nothing for this situation. It’s a simple and confortable decision, as nothing will be risked. For the second option, the situation might require some risky changes and success is not guaranteed. However, even if the company fails, they’ve moved forward and learn many new things. Without any question I will always choose the second option.
When we take risks for innovation, we’re creating the basis for a better tomorrow. Either failure or success will be result of innovation. However, it’s not usual that success comes from not innovating. In fact when we decide to ignore innovation, we can have a “relative calm” for our business. That will hold true until a competitor decided to innovate and he is better than us; at that moment, you will loose this calm.
In the second group of innovators I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can find proactive innovators, which are few and reactive innovators, which are the majority. This last group innovates when things are certain, which I also call innovators for survival. Once again this can be quite confortable, but this way of thinking limits our vision and we will loose many opportunities.
My invitation with this post is for companies and their executives to change the way they think about innovations. The risks for innovation are high, but the eventual benefits are even higher. Our markets are more competitive and moving forward very fast. We can’t make a pause for making a decision to innovate constantly and as part of our culture. While we decide this, every day we’re loosing opportunities and markets.
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