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The business survival instinct: Innovation in times of uncertainty

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With this instinctive nature built into many leaders, below are the tools to ensure your business is ready for the unexpected when it comes to innovation.

It starts at the top 

Innovation starts at the top. The successful managers in a rapidly changing technological environment are actually also innovation masters. They use technology to connect the organidation in ways that businesses have not been connected before.  

An innovative leader will use an innovative business model, fighting against the traditional idea of every division working on its own. Instead, he or she will encourage open collaboration, communication, and the free exchange of ideas.

Such leaders encourage their workers not to just do their jobs, but to look at themselves as entrepreneurs. Many are surprised by what happens when an employee is given the freedom to look beyond his or her job description.

3M and Google are examples of two companies where employees are encouraged to spend part of their time pursuing ideas outside their work description, clearly fostering an innovative environment. 

This culture of communication often results in ideas falling into the laps of those who would never otherwise have heard them. This free exchange of ideas can only occur if a strong leader and their company culture fosters the idea of open communication and collaboration where everyone is treated as an equal.

In companies where this doesn’t exist, far too often the hierarchy of the business kills innovation.

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Again, context is important 

There can be no true innovation without understanding that innovation does not happen in a vacuum. Environment is one of the biggest factors in innovation, especially the technological environment. Social media, mobile devices, and many other technologies we now use every day have reshaped our environment.

What was once an innovative idea in a world in which people were not connected 24/7 is now useless. The rules of business, information, entertainment and, in many ways, of simply going about a daily routine, have been so changed that technology has become less of a factor in innovative thinking and more of a constant, omnipresent presence. 

Continue reading on the next page for why context can also be a hindrance, the bandwagons to avoid, and why planning can kill the innovation in your business.

Image: Shutterstock

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