Research shows that companies who innovate are at least two times more likely to succeed. Sounds good, yes? Sure, everyone wants a sustainable financial future. and while your goals, objectives and circumstances are unique, there are some common themes to a successful journey.
To survive in business these days, you need to innovate and have a clear, sustainable competitive advantage. By embedding innovation in your business, you can create a superpower that allows you to stay ahead of the competition and thrive in today’s fast-paced world.
To create this awesome superpower for your business, you need to make innovation a core part of its culture, strategy, and operations. This means creating an environment where innovation is encouraged, rewarded, and supported across the whole organisation.
What is “innovation”?
Innovation can be very broad.
As the needs of your customers change and evolve, developing new or improved products means you can better meet their needs, such as new features, materials, or designs.
Product innovation is important, clearly, but there are several other ways to create value for your business and its customers.
We use a method which, in addition to your market offering, considers how your organisation is configured and the customer experience. For example, how could you be offering better value, are there different ways you could deliver that value, and are there better ways of doing things operationally.
This sort of broad innovation is a key driver of growth and success in business. It allows companies to stay ahead of the competition, respond to changing customer needs, and capitalise on emerging trends and technologies. Companies that prioritise innovation and invest in it tend to be more successful and profitable over the long- term.
How do you conjure up and harness this superpower?
The answer, of course, is people. Developing the right skills in the business and empowering your people to use them.
What skills do my people need?
The top 5 skills for 2025 (source: World Economic Forum) are:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality and initiative
These are critical skills for the future of every business, so your people can identify opportunities for improvement, generate new ideas, and implement them effectively. While this top 5 list represents a huge opportunity, it also spells disruption — as these skills become more and more in demand. If you’re not at the party, you’ll miss out on the people you need, and lose the best ones you’ve already got.
Do you have a strategy to build these skills in your business? There is a clear trend of people taking skills development into their own hands, with a universal appetite for mass upskilling. A comprehensive learning and development programme is a core tool for talent retention. In fact, it’s essential for several reasons. Showing your people that you value them and want to invest in them improves their performance, engagement and, by extension, enhances your customer experience.
Empowering your people
Having the right skills across your people is only part of the picture, you need to create the right culture, so they’re put to good use. Creating a culture of innovation means it’s embraced by all employees, from business leaders to front-line workers, and requires intentional effort and a long-term commitment.
There are several things a business leader can do to build this culture, but encouragement is the real key. Think about some ways to encourage your people to share their ideas and suggestions. Encourage them to take risks and celebrate the mistakes. This reinforces a safe environment for experimentation and builds a growth mindset. Collaboration is another great tool in the toolbox as promoting open communication allows diverse perspectives to flourish.
In a slight twist from the “what gets measured, gets done”, measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the initiatives you come up with. Use data to track progress, identify areas for improvement and adjust strategies as needed. Hey presto, this is the agility you’re looking for.
Lastly, a classic from the great rule book of good leadership – lead by example.
In summary, embedding innovation in a business means creating an environment where innovation is encouraged, rewarded, and supported at all levels of the organisation. By doing so, businesses can develop new products, services, and processes that can help them stay ahead of the competition and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.