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Row, Row, Row Your Boat! | Extraordinary Business

Extending innovation thinking in business design

row boatWhen I started my restaurant a number of years ago, I was committed to doing something that would be different – forward thinking and attractive for potential customers. My challenge was that I didn’t fully look at what my customer would want or how they would want it, but rather, how I wanted the business to look, act and function. All of the ideas and thinking for the business came from me. I was the man!

However, at some point, I got tired. The ideas stopped flowing. People came to me with suggestions that I often threw by the wayside. My pride became a consuming beast; the business because an 800 pound gorilla that I was anxious to shed, despite all of the inroads we had made.

Somehow, I think that I am not the only one who has ventured down this road, be it the development of a new product or service, introduction of a new store or eStore, a fund raising event or creation of a new course. In every case, making innovation come from a single source can and will absolutely limit its ability to become all of what it could potentially come…even if it is very good.

So how do you “think different?”

Perhaps thinking differently needs to start with your company’s core beliefs.  What would happen if your company’s belief statements included words such as “forward-thinking” and “innovative?”  What if employees were encouraged to bring new ideas to the table and were rewarded, individually or as a team, for developing new, better, faster ways of doing things? Do you think that this type of thinking should be limited to tech, chemical or engineering firms? Do you think that this type of model only exists in academia?

Of course not. These successful firms are proof that the model works. Consider the speed at which change is happening in technology; it is because innovative thinking isn’t limited to members at the top of the mountain, and these businesses (in most cases) don’t solely depend on the people at the top of the ladder to make all of the decisions.

For a business to become extraordinary, innovation is ongoing, and it comes from all areas of the business. Consider this: if the provider of widgets to the marketplace, and another firm comes in selling similar widgets, what happens to the price? It goes down, right, because you and that new competitor are going to focus on taking market share away from one another.

What happens, though, when you build widgets that are new, different and make the former widgets obsolete? It takes much longer for competitors to develop a new and innovative widget to compete with yours?

What happens when your innovations become less “innovative” or what is known as “incrementally innovative?” You lose market share and credibility. Your market will become less interested in purchasing your once unique product from you and will typically gravitate toward other offerings.

Innovation isn’t a once and done deal. It isn’t a matter of developing one product and making incremental changes in it year after year. It can be more than product development; it can go into how your business operates, how you produce or deliver your offerings, how you connect with your customers or any number of areas.

The important thing is: don’t just innovate; create a culture of innovation that encourages and supports innovation at every level of the company.

Consider this:  If everyone in the boat is paddling the same direction, don’t you think the boat will move much faster?

Have an extraordinary day.

~Rick

Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results.  We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.

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