Updated: Feb 12
Companies that build fancy museums to preserve their legacy typically head into their final chapter. Many mature companies are continually moving on paths that lead to scenarios Clayton Christensen famously named disruption decades ago. The reasons lie in human behavior and the incentives these organizations provide.
Companies that build fancy museums to preserve their legacy typically head into their final chapter.
Innovation means change. That's a fact. But people often don't appreciate changes in their professional lives, particularly when they benefit from the status quo, and the current business is still paying off very well. In such comfortable situations, it is also relatively easy to ignore the extremely fast-changing world with exponential developments in technologies, significant socio-economic shifts, and severe environmental changes.
Especially in more mature corporations, employees consider their career prospects at least as relevant as the company's business success. So they don't want to damage their perspectives due to risky ideas and innovations. But in the beginning, ideas that may disrupt businesses often look a bit risky and unconventional, or sometimes totally crazy.
Innovation means change.
A related problem is the tactical skepticism. Innovating contains risks as, by the way, not-innovating does. There is no question that organizations need to deal with risks responsibly and smartly. But skepticism is also used by people to put themselves on the secure side when novel ideas are proposed or discussed. They want to be able to state that they warned others of this idea if it turns out to be unsuccessful. An organization that rewards these kinds of behavior is doomed.
Customers are the only peer group that decides whether a product or service is an innovation or not.
It's a sharp contrast to entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs are typically on some mission. In extreme cases, this mission is their life. Careers are meaningless to them as they measure their success by what they have achieved with their company.
The hesitation and risk-averse behavior in mature companies can lead to bizarre experiences for customers: Executives state the meaning of innovation and marketing campaigns create a picture of an innovative organization. On the other side, customers do not see any changes. As innovation means change, there is also no innovation. To be clear: In business, the current and potential customers are the only peer group that decides whether a product or service is an innovation or not. Everything else doesn't matter.
The legacy of a company has to be created and preserved by those people whose lives have been enriched, improved, or saved through the company's products and services.
It also explains why companies do not need fancy museums: The legacy of a company has to be created and preserved by those people whose lives have been enriched, improved, or saved through the company's products and services. They will tell the relevant stories that spread through word-of-mouth and social media. Once again: Everything else doesn't matter.
Innovation and Transformation
There is no doubt that it is much easier to complain about missing innovation than to create innovative products and services. I have gained expertise on both sides, as an innovator and as a consultant helping organizations to become innovative again. Based on my experiences, I developed a framework with seven steps that can transform a struggling organization into an innovative company.
This model consists of two major phases: Innovation and transformation.
The first phase contains the steps analysis, creativity, and innovation. The analysis covers multiple aspects of the inside and the outside world of a company. It is succeeded by the steps of creativity and innovation, which in fact, are a pilot project. Typically, I run a pilot project in an organization that should result in a product or service innovation. It serves three primary purposes: First, it creates momentum for innovation in the organization and helps to overcome skepticism and doubts. Second, it provides invaluable insights into innovation capabilities and deficiencies of the organization. Finally, it gives value to the company and its customers in terms of a novel or improved product or service.
The results of the three steps contribute to the subsequent training. There are two goals: Mitigate the deficits that were identified during the pilot project. Prepare the workforce for the planned transformation into an innovative company.
The training plan is always customized to the specific needs of a company. It typically covers subjects such as innovation strategies, methods, and tools. Further topics are relevant global trends and their impact, as well as selected technologies. Essential are the two topics of innovation mindset and innovation culture that go hand in hand. Both are typically vastly underestimated.
Empowered by the training and the experiences from the pilot project, the phase of transformation can begin. It starts with the development of a new vision and the definition of goals. This step provides a lot of challenges to the people. It also shows how innovative the mindsets of those involved have become. Without an ambitious vision and underlying capacity, the company won't get anywhere.
Another step during the transformation phase is building the essential drivers and enablers. It should be no secret that the most critical drivers are humans. But of course, many other aspects can drive forward and enable transformational changes.
Transformation means redefining and implementing new structures in any dimension of a company, including the organization's processes. As the, before mentioned, drivers and enablers become increasingly powerful, the transformation speeds up. This acceleration subsequently needs to affect every part of the company.
Given the enormous speed of so many vital developments in our world, the acceleration is inevitable, if a company wants to survive. For those who have doubts: Think a couple of moments about what it means to keep up with exponential technological developments. How fast do you have to innovate to get ahead of the game?
Would you like to learn more about this concept?
Get in touch with me today to discuss your business needs and desires. Let's find out how I can help you and your organization to reach growth, profit, and success through technology innovation. Schedule Your FREE Discovery Call Now.
Sources and Recommendations
Thiebus, S. (2019). 7 Steps to Successful Technology Innovation. Retrieved from https://www.thiebus.com/7steps-technologyinnovation-success