A proven, exciting Retirement planning process for individuals and couples, The Best-Half is a combination of workshops, coaching and personal reflection. It was developed by experienced coaches and educators. For organizations, The Best-Half is a process to be used in succession management especially for transitions and to establish common goals and objectives in the senior phases of a career.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Is this the greatest age of innovation?

All around us we see amazing advances in innovation. McMaster University made the headlines recently with their break though work into converting skin cells into blood. Innovation parks like Hamilton’s are springing up in cities across the world and universities now promote a dual focus of scholarship and innovation as core goals.

At a recent public lecture sponsored by the Golden Horseshoe Biosciences Network the distinction was made between ideas and innovation. It’s an important one… innovation is the application of ideas. It’s taking action and turning ideas into innovation. Ideas themselves can be exciting and important but if you fail to capitalize on those ideas by applying action the applicability ‘bar’ doesn’t move any further.

Innovating in a business is challenging especially when you are in the midst of managing the business model you currently have to make the money you need to innovate a new one. This is when lazy businesses try to sell improvements as innovation. More pixels on a cell phone is not innovation. We are going to be seeing a lot of ads for the new Windows phone launching this month. Will it be the game changer they are touting it as or simply someone else’s take on improving what the other guys and girls are doing? Consumers appreciate improvement but it’s a long way from how they appreciate innovation.

Business strategy often revolves around what the competition is doing and superimposing your own culture, offerings, discounts and style. Our inclination is to “fine tune” not take the strings off and go for a whole new sound. But if you align your strategies to what everyone else does, be assured that a single innovation ‘bullet’ will take you down.

Successful innovation can not be a task for a quiet day or a “one-off” event. It starts with putting innovation high up on the list of everyone in the organization and making innovation the core of the corporate to do list. It’s about spending a lot of money and time and energy. It’s also about creating a climate where failure is OK and even good.

If your business falls into the sector where innovation is applauded when you bring out a new colour or new packaging, it’s clearly time to shake things up. Blame it on the economy or the shareholders or the owners and get people thinking about your burning platform. What are the biggest dangers facing you in the short term? Is it technology, off shore competition, an aging product cycle, a graying workforce, a dollar at par? Or all of them?

What opportunities are there to look at your dangers as fantastic once in a lifetime chances to innovate? Create a mechanism where ideas are encouraged and then give people the opportunity to innovate. Universities spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on research. Benefit from all that brain power by forming strategic alliances that move science and discovery onto the plant floor - then stand back and watch the sparks fly.


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