Business innovation strategies: Don’t wait, innovate!

- October 30, 2005 2 MIN READ

Our ability to develop business innovation strategies will not only give us a competitive edge, it will also ensure our business’ survival in the future.

Thanks to globalisation, the time is looming when local business will be unable to compete on the price and quality of the highly skilled but cheap labour from overseas. If we can’t compete there, we must find the edge elsewhere.

We believe we need to compete on ideas.

This isn’t just an idle suggestion. It is a matter of business survival.

So where do we look for business innovation strategies and innovation leadership?

The Government is not the answer. It is by nature pro-status-quo and consensus-driven, and therefore counter-innovation. Committees kill vision, courageous acts and the daring to fail.

Big business is no better. Its inherent risk avoidance, profit myopia and procedural non-thinking is honed to suffocate any creative thoughts.

No, building an innovation-led future, not surprisingly, lies with us soloists. Solo businesses are small, flexible, adaptable, and driven by vision, ideas and passion.

The conditions are right to nurture the innovative spirit. Our limited resources force the focus on ingenuity and we’re well aware of our personal commitments and responsibilities.

Want more articles like this? Check out the innovation section.

To survive in the new world of work, it’s time for us to start putting business innovation strategies into place. Here’s some advice on how to get started:

1. Stop waiting for the Government or someone else to do something. Seek power within yourself. Just do it.

2. Decide to be innovative now. Give yourself the permission to try new things, to ask “Why not?” and to fail spectacularly.

3. Form local innovation groups to swap ideas. Learn from each others’ industries. Celebrate each other’s successes and failures.

4. Search out bona fide (not quick fix) innovation and creative thinking courses. Train yourself and your children to think. Your children especially need creative thinking skills, not currently supplied by our schools, to survive the new world of work.

5. Learn to play again. Innovation is fun. It’s good for your soul.

6. Seek out innovation-friendly investors – if such creatures exist. Money-myopic investors will be demoralising to endure. Do you really need them? Watch out for those grant applications with the idea-killing paperwork.

7. Most of the time, parroting what big businesses do is a BAD idea. Learn from an average 4-year-old instead (no kidding).

8. Many “innovation” and “entrepreneurial” awards actually celebrate greed and the reinforcement of the status quo. After all, “awards are judged in committee by consensus of what is known” says Paul Arden in his book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be

It is up to each and every of us to champion innovation everyday in everything we do. What if every soloist in Australia woke up tomorrow with a visionary innovation agenda? That is 76% of small businesses in this country! Imagine what that could do!

What are you waiting for?

Article authored in conjunction with Zern Liew.