Tag Archives: challenge

Innovation can — sometimes, okay, maybe often — be a battle

 

Dr.-Ing. Norbert Reithofer, CEO of BMW AG:

Why BMW started the risky BMW-i3 project?

Because doing nothing was even a bigger risk”.

BMW-i3

When is it last time you…
  • visited start-ups challenging your position.
  • invited a trend watcher to confront you with how quick the world is changing.
  • visited customers who just changed provider to an innovative substitute.
  • went to Tech Universities to see experiments with new technologies.
  • read articles on new successful business models.
  • visit young customers and asked what they think of your brand — and products.
  • visited customers … and simply talked to them while they are at it

 

If you are reading this, your organization is probably less innovative than you are. You have a game-changing role. Build awareness that your company needs to innovate. Top Management will only change their conservative views if they get fresh new insights.
Keep confronting them with signals that your market is changing rapidly: changing customer preferences, new substitutes, a small new Danish start-up, et cetera… until the urgency to innovate will be understood and is top-of-mind.

Present your innovative breakthroughs propositions (bring new business, not new ideas) not as something really extraordinary (and risky) but as the normal next thing to do for the company. Your chances to convince will increase dramatically.

The voice of the Customer (VoC) is your best friend, ever. Use Customer Insights results and enthusiast testimonials to get internal support.

And Oh, one last thing, of course they’ll say no to your innovation. What would you do if someone came up to you out of the blue, saying you have to do the things you do totally differently? Or do totally different things. Innovation is always provocative by definition. So when they say “no” to innovation, don’t take it personally. It is not the end of the battle. It’s only the beginning!

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What effective leaders do to lay the groundwork for innovation

effective leader1. They actively encourage entrepreneurship. Forward-looking companies continually reinvent their business models through experimentation and innovation. To let such a culture flourish, leaders have to be willing to share authority, challenge the status quo, encourage creativity and accept failure.

2. They set clear priorities. As important as entrepreneurship is, a leader ultimately has to lead. The person at the top frequently and sometimes uniquely enjoys an ideal vantage point for choosing between the short and the long term, and among markets and sectors. But no matter how clear their vision, leaders can’t manage innovation on their own. Companies need rigorous processes for assessing which ideas should move into development and which should not. Being able to say no is an essential driver of innovation productivity.

3. They strike a balance between efficiency and innovation. Some companies may be under pressure to cut costs and drive efficiencies, but the increasing pace of change means they also need to emphasise innovation. Resolving this contradiction requires the ability to both explore new avenues and fully leverage existing ones.

Combined with a healthy appetite for innovation, these leadership qualities have the potential to unleash a new wave of business creativity – and with it, perhaps, a new generation of global competitors.

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