Sustained successful outcomes are an outcome of sustained innovation. Sustained innovation can affect all aspects of a business. It helps the enterprise collect ideas and can influence organization structure, business procedures, and customer engagement.
An enterprise needs to innovate to move forward. They must continually strive to improve and try new ways to become more effective. It may be cliched, but companies that do not innovate are left behind.
Innovating companies are more adaptable and responsive to industry shifts. They can handle disruptions better. Such companies are healthier at every level. Employees and customers are both happier and more satisfied. Innovating companies are more efficient, productive, and competitive in the marketplace.
All companies are not innovating. The common barriers to innovation in a company are:
A survey of corporate leaders conducted by Harvard Business Review reveals this as the most common impediment to innovation. Innovation is feared because it could lead to loss of power, breakdown of the established pecking order in the company, and even make some positions obsolete.
As a company grows, business processes mature, and individual roles are more clearly defined, leaving little scope for innovation. It is common practice for large corporations to acquire innovative ideas and create great products. Large companies can replicate existing products than innovate and create new ones. The organizational structures in large corporations tend to make people more risk-averse.
Corporations, therefore, resort to periodic re-structuring to maintain vigor and prevent risk aversion from setting in. Boards and shareholders are more concerned with quarterly performance. These companies must make an extra effort to keep the creative juices in the company going. Some companies resort to creating separate research and development units to promote startup culture and create new products.
Big companies focus on profits and performance. Funds for innovation in large companies are given a low priority. Budget constraints are a common reason for poor innovation in these companies.
Innovation is sustained in an organization that encourages creativity and innovation. Bob Rosenfeld, the author of Making the Invisible Visible: The Human Principles for Sustaining Innovation, lists five principles of sustaining innovation:
- Innovation starts when people convert problems to ideas: Innovation occurs when an enterprise has a climate that encourages innovation and inquiry rather than undermines it.
- Innovation needs a system: The system in the organization can be formal or informal.
- Passion is the fuel for innovation.
- Co-location of people drives more effective exchanges. It helps builds trust vital for innovation. Co-location stimulates creative thinking.
- Differences such as language, culture, and problem-solving styles are a boon for innovative thinking and should be leveraged.
Successful sustained innovation requires to be implemented. Its implementation requires a change in a business process. In some cases, it may require acquiring new skills. In short, innovation disrupts the status quo. The business has to learn to adapt to the innovation. Learning and adaptation involve time to test, scale up, and for the company to profit from the change.
Let us take the example of Tesla, one of the leading innovative companies in the world. The electric vehicle from the company took years to develop, test, and finally go into production. Customers lined up much before the vehicle’s launch. The first few Teslas had huge development challenges. These required sustained innovation to resolve. Only when that has been achieved can full-scale car production could take place.