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The business survival instinct: Innovation in times of uncertainty

Context canAlsobe a hindrance

Conversely, context can also hold back innovation. Like traditional approaches, context can so dominate the way people approach a problem that it actually holds back innovation. People get so caught up in budgets, visions, priorities, resource management and more that they fail to see something that should be very obvious.

Periodically, there is a need to take a look at the big picture without worrying about how the company fits into it. Look at trends, recent innovative ideas, and how the industry is growing and changing. Often, the best innovations are those that build upon whats already there or step in to fill a noticeable gap.

Avoid bandwagons?

While theres definitely money to be made in following on the heels of an innovation by refining it and creating more perfect versions, thats not trueofinnovation and, more often than not, the attempt results in creating an inferior version that only serves to cost the company money.

For example, how many small music players other than the iPod were out there Most people cannot name any other brand, or if they can, it’s a brand that has failed or controls very little of the market.

Instead of leaping from big idea to big idea, innovative companies look at the basic idea behind the innovation. Couldit be taken in another direction Is there a key technology or idea there that can be used in other ways Why is this innovation so popular now, and what does that popularity tell us Take a good, hard look at the innovation, and then look beyond it.

Do not let planning kill innovation

Paperwork is almost universally reviled it is tedious, it is boring and it seemsAs ifit only creates more paperwork. It can also kill innovation, especially if the red tape becomes so thick that any new idea takes months to go through the approval phase.

The last thing any leader should do is implement so much bureaucracy that innovative ideas never become more than ideas. Yes, business plans, outlines,book-keepingAnd other documents are certainly important, but planning should never stand in the way of creating.

The key that many top innovative businesses follow is simple: less paperwork, more testing and demo creation. Thatis not to say that there should not be documented plans or concepts, but being able to say that the technology or methodology needed to create something can be done and then show a working model is worth so much more.

Richard Branson is one business leader who promotes creativity in the work place, with Virgin Atlantics CEO inspired by Branson to think of planes as test labs . Understandably, that description could sound worrying but it’s with a view to provide customers a better experience unless the pilot decides to test out a barrel roll.

For more key areas to help work through the uncertainty created by technology, Surviving the Techstorm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty by Nicklas Bergman is available to purchase now from Amazon.

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