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Monday, October 18, 2010

Making Innovation More Than a Buzzword

I read with great interest Ric Merrifield’s blog post where he commented: “My growing fear is that innovation is on course to become the fad of the day in the same way quality was in the 90s.” Far from a “fad”, I believe innovation is core to growth for many businesses and it is not likely to get blown away by the next breezy trend. The foundation to creating innovation in your firm is to develop a culture that supports risk taking. It’s not about fads, trends and buzzwords. It’s about creating an environment that promotes creativity.

Complacency can ruin any good business. Just look at Blockbuster who announced last month they are filing for bankruptcy after not being able to anticipate, adapt and cater to new market and customer demands.

As Fast Company reports, there’s a strong correlation between innovation and failure. One of the worst habits organizations get into is that of not taking any risks. Place the bet on smart people who push the envelope. These are the ones who will help spur innovation. Fostering innovation is about the way you do business as much as who does business with you. Recreate the same uncreative processes, fail to listen to your customers, miss market trends and you’ll have the same uncreative business.

If you value innovation and want to instill it as a cornerstone to success in your organization, then you will need to establish the kind of culture that is conducive to sustainable innovation — one that enables innovation to become part of your company's DNA, rather than being yet another buzzword. Demonstrate to people that ideas are at the heart of what your organization values. Give people room to grow, to explore new ideas; build a strong sense of openness and trust and community; and facilitate the internal mobility of talent. All of this will go a long way to fostering sustainable innovation.

Is innovation a fad or a cornerstone in your organization?

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