When we think about companies and brands that are truly innovative, a few big names spring to mind—Apple, Google, Amazon and more recently, Tesla. What all of these brands have in common, aside from a very healthy balance sheet, is their own self-paved path to success through innovation.
Whether it was Steve Job’s bringing Apple back from the dead or Elon Musk gunning for a brighter tomorrow, it is innovation that sees organisations charging full-steam ahead. Foresight is the real key to cutting through the noise of surrounding competition.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses lack the gusto to bring about an upheaval in their industry. Even giants, such as Apple, are losing their “innovative spark”. There’s something being lost in the sense of pushing boundaries and creating new benchmarks in the industry; businesses are seemingly fearing the amount of effort involved.
This is concerning because it is the tiny moments of brilliance in business that tend to create something new and wonderful for the world. Of course, for a company, the important part is that the innovation breeds profits. Without that great idea or unique path to success though, a brand can quickly fall by the wayside and start haemorrhaging money.
With hope, business leaders will learn to adapt, create a revolution of their own and learn to stand out from the crowd. This post hopes to illuminate some of the problems that are prevalent in modern businesses, as well as how it feeds into a lack of innovation across the board.
Stagnant Workplace Culture
A business’s culture reflects its very ethos, and in order to cultivate innovation, their workplace should reflect that. Too often, a business will stick with a stringent, stagnated culture that ultimately falls short of the mark. Clocking in from 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday, with a homogenised work environment, does nothing to break any moulds—encourage your employees to excel or harness untapped potential.
It is vital that employees are invigorated, inspired and ready to offer up their talent to the fullest. Getting to that stage starts with an innovative culture at work, something that bucks traditional norms and trends to get your staff thinking outside of the box. Breakthroughs don’t have to be big, either. Lots of little advancements, improvements and revolutions will ultimately yield the fruit of innovation—employers just need to create an environment that allows for it.
Buying into Failure
If you were to ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffett if they had heeded the advice of naysayers and unbelievers throughout their career, they would undoubtedly say that they never gave it a second thought. Similarly, when faced with the prospect of failure, it is unlikely that the truly successful in business would throw in the towel so easily. This is a key aspect of success in the corporate world, because rather than buy into their own failure, a truly inspired business will learn from every criticism and shortfall along the way.
Embracing failure in such a way is pivotal to seeing positive outcomes in business, as it adds merit to a potential loss. Every problem brought to an innovative brand’s attention will be addressed, and this brings them closer to their end goal of success. One way to look at a failure in business is to think of it as an investment of your inevitable success, further down the road.
Looking Backwards Instead of Forwards
This sign is really only relevant if your brand has seen previous fortune with a product or service, but it can potentially cripple a worthwhile business. Success is a bad guide for future endeavours because it can make you feel impervious to failure. To be truly innovative, you need to throw caution to the wind and look ahead instead of behind at your past successes.
An excellent example of this damaging outlook can be seen in Kodak’s unfocussed attempts to preserve camera film. The camera company invented the digital camera before anyone else, showing true innovation along the way. However, that is where the brilliance stopped—they chose not to bring it to market because they wanted to protect their thriving camera film revenues.
Eventually, digital cameras flooded the market and made camera film obsolete, and severely damaged Kodak’s control of the industry. Had Kodak looked ahead, instead of behind, they could have dominated what is now a billion-dollar market. Instead, they were forced to deal with an obsolete piece of technology.
This whole process is tricky business, but the payoff can be tremendous. Innovation doesn’t have to be revolutionary by any means; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. An incremental positive change can work just as well as some next-generation product or service. However, it seems that even the small innovations are lacking in many businesses across the globe. Instead, they choose to rest on their laurels or fade into the ocean of similarly marketed and designed products. This is not inspired, impressive or innovative, and their audience knows it. In fact, for many, it can be the final nail in the coffin for a brand that decided to play things safe. For modern business, this is not good enough; to survive and succeed you need to bring something new to the table…and that takes more than just a good idea.
About the author
Paul Finn is the CEO and founder of WebsiteDesign.com.au, helping businesses all throughout Australia to create impressive websites for their brand.