Even the most successful businesses face customer, competitive, and business growth challenges. The factors which led to stunning success in times past may not be what leads you to success in the future.
1) Lack of innovation can kill your company.
Let’s face it. It's hard to be competitive... especially when you're dead. Hootsuite's CEO, Ryan Holmes, notes in a LinkedIn article:
"When some companies stop innovating, it can literally kill them."
To prove his point, he points to Blockbuster, a company that went from being the planet's biggest video chain to bankruptcy in no time flat. Why is Blockbuster such a cautionary tale? The chain fell victim to evolving technologies, stiff competition from the likes of Netflix and Redbox and a tragic inability to anticipate change and master it.
2) Embracing creativity narrows your blind spots.
Any business can be blindsided by sudden changes in the marketplace. However, companies that weave a spirit of creative invention into the very fabric of their corporate culture are less likely to be caught off-guard by changing trends and technologies.
Huffington Post notes:
"At its core, achieving sustainable innovation isn't just about embracing ongoing learning and experimentation. It's about institutionalizing a love of change in your organization. Successful enterprises don't seek to avoid change and disruption. They know that great change will happen, and prepare themselves to greet it before it arrives."
3) Innovative product development puts companies on the offensive
The best defense is a good offense. Inventing new products or making creative changes to old products puts your company in an offensive position from which you can easily defend against the moves of a strategic competitor. Companies are striving to get ahead of the market and answer a need that has not been previously addressed to the satisfaction of consumers. Identifying and meeting these niche needs makes your company the one to follow in your chosen field.
4) Inventive companies create their own new customers.
In addition to appealing to the desires of your current customers, advancing product development enables you to expand your reach to an entirely new audience. While your competitors zero in on customers you have in common, you can focus on cultivating an expanded customer base. When you look at product through a different lens, it often leads to seeing opportunities in places your competitors have completely overlooked.
5) Innovation cures myopia.
Nurturing a spirit of inventiveness in your company enables you to avoid near-sightedness in your business strategies. A culture of innovation allows you to tap into the perceptions of employees, consumers and competitors, which in turn yields actionable intelligence that informs future creative efforts. This cycle is what puts your company ultimately into sustainable growth mode.
How to Stimulate Growth Continuously
Given that your business needs to innovate to remain competitive, what are some things that you can do to foster product invention in your company?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Communicate regularly with your customer-facing employees because they have frontline intel about what your customers really want.
- Allow employees some free time to pursue projects about which they are passionate.
- Host "hackathons" or brainstorming events where employees are encouraged to let their imaginations roam freely to address customer problems.
- Consider creating a dedicated team for product invention projects.
- Work with an innovation company to identify and correct bottlenecks in your creative processes.
How does your company approach advancing products to achieve sustainable growth? Please share your success stories in the comment section below.