One thing every business owner can agree on is that they want to lead an organisation that creates long-term, sustainable profits and prosperity. With the onset of the new, knowledge-based global digital economy (GDE) these goals are attainable by firms of any size and virtually (both literally and figuratively) located anywhere.As innovative, transformational technologies become readily available to anyone able to access them through a connection to the web, there is no more advantageous time to start a company with global reach. With minimal costs and a little guidance, what once might have been labelled a local endeavour can now have a major impact as a mini-multinational – regardless of where they’re located. That said, whether you’re based in Silicon Valley on just off the Silicon Roundabout, currently there is cacophony of consultants and processes purporting to be able to lead businesses through the innovation wilderness, often for a hefty fee. Thankfully, there are a number of simple steps, embraced by most successful companies thriving in the GDE, which take nothing out of already stretched budgets – but, instead, can be instrumental in attracting profits, both tangible and intangible, to a business’ bottom line. The following key insights have been collected from my interviews with more than 100 international innovators, thought leaders and successful entrepreneurs. They underline how to translate innovative ideas into commercially profitable outcomes without having to go cap in hand for capital funding. ALWAYS CHALLENGE EVERYTHING, especially the ‘accepted wisdom’ on how to do things.
“Too many organisations unconsciously don’t want innovative new ideas that, by definition, challenge the status quo. Instead they favour a kind of groupthink where “everyone knows” that a certain idea, process or way of doing business is the right one. And all too often if anyone challenges this accepted wisdom there are negative consequences. For many people its much easier, safer and more comfortable to go along.”
- Rob Atkinson (President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation).
“Technology had to do several important things at the time and none of the technologies available could do any of those things. It was, basically, mandatory to invent a whole new system, which is what we did. We set up a team at the BBC making truly effective, interactive teaching and communicatory tools and, 20-odd years later, that team is still behind SMARTlab.”
- Lizbeth Goodman is Professor of Inclusive Design and Chair of Creative Technology Innovation at University College Dublin, Board Member at the Innovation Academy, Founder and Director of SMARTlab and Director of Research at Futurelab Education.
“Innovation, as a term, connotes challenging the status quo. This approach can often put team members and other stakeholders on the defensive, which is unfortunate. Instead of working with you, some people can become roadblocks to innovation. We make a point of bringing everyone along with us on the journey to the development of innovation. Once individuals are bought into the premise, they are more likely to fight to make it happen.”
- Brianna Sylver, Co-Founder and President of Sylver Consulting.
“Leaders who understand the imperative of innovation not only encourage employees to innovate, they protect them, and also set aside funds to enable employees with the insight, perspicacity and courage to innovate.”
- Abby Bloom, co-founder and CEO of Acu Rate, thought leader in innovation in healthcare and medical devices.
“…you can be the equivalent of a Ronaldo or a Messi and feature in some short term returns by being totally individualistic. However, if you want to make a real contribution you need to develop the individual skills that can make you a valuable member of a functional , integrated and highly effective team. Of course, part of the challenge is finding that team.”
- Professor Gordon Wallace, Executive Research Director at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science
“I believe in walking the talk – or rowing it. If you’re trying to influence behaviour, the best thing you can do is to exemplify behaviour, and through your own life demonstrate the benefits.”
- Roz Savage, author, adventurer, environmental campaigner, and holder of four world records for ocean rowing, including first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
All quotes courtesy of ‘!nnovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World‘ by Kim Chandler McDonald (published by Kogan Page)Image source
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