CEOs That Innovate Get a Leg Up on the Competition




  • August 27, 2015

    Innovation


    Innovation is essential in all forms of business. CEOs that focus on innovation and encourage it from their employees will likely have an advantage over those that get lost in the day-to-day duties and minutiae. It requires a willingness to brainstorm, aiming for creative solutions and new products.


    Here are a few reasons why it’s crucial for CEOs to be leaders in innovation.


    The game has changed — significantly.


    It’s no news flash that starting and succeeding in business can be a vastly different scenario than 10 or 20 years ago. It’s not necessarily about elbow grease and manpower as it is about technological savvy and strategy. Nathan Furr, co-author of The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Startup Into Your Organization, writes about this for inc.com.


    “… To start a business, you no longer need $ 100,000 to open one physical store that reaches a limited geography, but for a few thousand dollars you can open an online store that reaches the world, or borrow an increasing wealth of open source or modular components that can be hosted online at the exact scale needed. … On the demand side, education, policy and cultural changes have unleashed a tsunami of entrepreneurs intent on changing the world. These factors contribute to a radically more uncertain world, which means that traditional management tactics designed for execution in a world of relative certainty need to be complemented with innovation management tactics designed for exploration in a world of uncertainty.”


    Get in a startup state of mind.


    As many businesses grow, so do the obstacles that come with it. That goes for people and processes. Examining how a young startup operates — especially in how nimble and fast these businesses can be — can shed light on those advantages. Brian O’Connor explores this for inc.com.


    “Look at your younger, smaller — and often more successful — competitors,” he says. “How does your speed-to-market compare? Are you deploying customer-centric user groups to innovate products and reach new markets? How saddled are you with bureaucracy and hierarchy? If you’re a CEO, when’s the last time you spoke to a customer? If it was more than three months ago — you’re not thinking like a startup.”


    It’s a major benefit for employees.


    As a business innovates, possibilities open up for employees. Howard Tiersky examined this for ceo.com, noting that innovation brings new opportunities, which can then bring excitement and help to energize a business. It boosts customer service as well, he says, especially with employees that deal directly with clients. And employees naturally want the business to succeed.


    “They know that bringing new products to market helps; they know financial success and growth means raises and job security,” he says. “If the company doesn’t keep up with the times it threatens their long-term security.”


    The right team can make the right call.


    Gathering the best participants in a brainstorming session is an important and sometimes overlooked step in innovation. It may be beneficial for a CEO to invite some out-of-left-field candidates, those with creativity that could provide a spark to the proceedings. Neill Wallace writes about this for ceo.com.


    “I think it is the third commandment of leadership that states ‘only direct reports should make up your management team,’” he says. “It is a commandment that many leaders stick to religiously. Yet it honestly doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Not every person that directly reports to you will be a creative genius. That doesn’t mean they don’t have good things to offer. It just means that coming up with innovative ideas probably isn’t one of them. But I guarantee you there are people among your team who are idea machines. So look beyond your current inner circle, find the talent, and have them join your management team.”

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