We have all heard the common phrase, ‘Don’t rest on your laurels’. Essentially, resting on your laurels means that you are being complacent or arrogant in your mindset. You are unwilling to change your mindset, either because you that think your current one is better, or because you may fear what the change could cause. A failure to innovate in the business world can leave you limping behind competitors who are soaring because they decided to update their business model.
Indeed, many clients tell us their most critical issue is tapping into the latent innovation capacity that exists in their organisation to build a culture of innovation. That kind of culture is not the natural state in most organisations, where the default is to focus on executing today, not inventing tomorrow. The problem isn’t usually a lack of good ideas. Initiatives take too long, non-strategic projects get greenlighted at the expense of game changers, dynamic ideas remain captive in the heads of employees. We often tell our clients “IF YOU CHANGE NOTHING, NOTHING CHANGES!”
Failure to innovate in the business world can leave you limping behind competitors.
Developing innovative ideas is a critical activity for growing companies of all sizes. We often come across businesses in Gibraltar who fail to embrace innovation because they believe innovation is just for big companies that have ample resources and large research and development departments. This false belief prevents many business owners from effectively identifying and applying innovations in their organisations. As a result, small businesses may fail to identify valuable ideas that would assist them in growing a profitable company.
Richard Branson said, “Small businesses are nimble and bold and can often teach much larger companies a thing or two about innovations that can change entire industries”.
Here are five ways small companies can innovate better than much larger organisations.
1. Speed of execution
Small businesses can position themselves to make decisions quickly, allowing them to be first to market with innovative ideas. Instead of spending months or years evaluating new ideas and passing them through multiple departments, a flexible small business can make fast decisions regarding whether to pursue a particular idea. When a valuable idea is discovered, it can be developed quickly and launched to potential customers. This fast action distinguishes the business as an innovator, and causes its competitors to play ‘catch-up’.
2. Fast access to business resources
When a valuable idea is discovered, business leaders can quickly allocate resources to develop and market the idea. Multiple departments can get involved at the same time to implement the new idea, and personnel reassigned to the project, which shortens the development time. Larger companies with many product lines must distribute their resources among all of their products and services. A smaller company is able to temporarily reallocate significant resources to the innovative idea that is critical to the growth of the company.
3. Team environment
Small businesses can develop a team culture that encourages everyone to get involved in the innovation process. Rather than focusing creative activities on a few individuals or groups, business leaders can promote creative thinking throughout the organization. Every individual brings different experiences and perspectives that can assist in the identification and development of new ideas. This team approach accelerates the speed of execution, which helps position the business as a market leader.
4. Company-wide innovation support
To successfully cultivate a team of people who are actively identifying and developing innovative ideas, a company’s leaders must openly support innovation activities. This support must start with the CEO and include all other executives, directors and managers. When employees and contractors see unanimous support for creative activities, they understand the importance of those activities and are motivated to participate. This helps to strengthen the team environment and accelerates the development of new ideas.
5. Measure innovation
To further motivate people to spend time identifying creative ideas, small businesses can emphasise innovation by making it part of the company’s job descriptions and evaluation criteria. Many companies do not consider innovation when evaluating an employee’s performance. If bonuses and pay increases are not tied to any creative activities, it sends a message that new ideas are not important. This message causes employees to place a greater emphasis on other activities that are specifically mentioned as part of their job performance.
Regardless of the size of the company, business leaders who start identifying and applying innovative ideas will enjoy a thriving business.
As Innovation Consultants we help our clients build a view of the future, and define ‘where to play’ and ‘how to win’ with innovation – with an eye toward execution. We define and drive alignment around the goals, resources, capabilities and portfolio objectives to operationalise the strategy. Our approach is designed to provide a continuous feedback loop so that our clients are able to adjust their innovation strategy based on in-market results and new insights, allowing them to adapt more quickly in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.