The rate of change in business is speeding up, and market disruption is getting stronger and more frequent.
Does this mean that to stay ahead of the pack and win the race, you and your people need to be superhuman?
No, you don’t have to become superheroes. You can be yourselves because you don’t need to outrun a speeding bullet, stop a locomotive, or leap tall buildings in a single bound. What your people need to do keep the organization ahead of your nearest competitor, who are ordinary mortals just like you.
You’re already very good at what you do. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in the race. All you have to do is take your good performance and step it up a notch. Squeeze out just a little more speed. Take a slightly longer stride. Don’t stop for a latte macchiato quite so often. Focus a little more at work. Make an extra effort to find and develop those key innovations that will make a difference. Do the things that any winning team would do if they chose to do them.
In business, winning through innovation is a choice. You can choose to stay in the lead, or you can choose to slide back into the pack with the others.
Three Key Action Items to Stay Ahead in Innovation
1. Recognize the increasing rate of change. Too many leaders operate under a set of assumptions they may have formulated earlier in life, when the pace was slower; or they may not see that change can impact any industry, no matter how ubiquitous it may be. Make sure your view of your industry is accurate and timely! Plan on shorter product life cycles. Ensure your innovation pipeline is always full.
2. Know your customers. Consumers are plugged into social media and review sites, and don’t hesitate to express their displeasure with a product or service. You need to respect their growing power and use it to your advantage. Be sensitive to their changing tastes and how they perceive your products and services.
3. Find the innovations that work for you. Remember, it’s okay if your company isn’t a massive disruptor or isn’t going to make headlines with a new product innovation. Staying one step ahead of the competition isn’t just about rolling out new technology or a splashy new product. You can be an innovation leader in human resources, your supply chain, operations, financial management, employee relations—all the functional areas that drive an organization forward.