Businesses don’t grow and thrive by doing the same old thing, and only that thing, over and over. They grow because someone has a new idea, and nurtures it properly. If growth is essential for an organization to survive, innovation is essential for growth.
Alvin Chia, in an article in The Huffington Post, argues that truly innovative companies are hard to find these days. He says “the problem is not experience and know-how; it’s the lack of a bold, agile and flexible way of thinking.” Chia claims the overarching issue is that major corporations – once innovation leaders — are not set up to consistently innovate. He also notes that when new innovators disrupt the industry, large companies aren’t ready for transformation, and they get left behind. He suggests several ways to spark innovation:
- Engage more external talent - Chia quotes an Accenture study that says: “more than 60 percent of workers believe collaborative thinking, which corporations can readily support, is the best source for new ideas.” He suggests that collaborating with external talent can creatively cross-pollinate an organization and spark innovation.
- Rethink Hierarchies – New ideas are so important to growth, Chia says, that “the goal of managers and executives should be to build the right environment for innovation.” The structure of the company should reflect that.
- Encourage “20% Time.” Citing an idea that Google used in the past – to allow workers to use a fifth of their paid time on their own projects, Chia says “A company can really unleash the potential of its rock star talent when it gives employees space to think.” He goes on to say: “To keep your best and brightest, you must give them freedom and encourage collaboration . This will make them happy – and lead to “aha” moments.
Meanwhile, Information Age and American Express’s OPEN Forum blog both seem to suggest that the next wave of innovation will come in the place where cloud computing, machine intelligence and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) converge. Open Forum suggests that because IoT technologies easily harness information gathering and analysis, they can level the playing field between small (and therefore agile) businesses and huge ones. OPEN says:
Being able to leverage new technologies to automate processes that were previously only available in enterprise is now available with the rise of consumer-ready tech for small business owners.
This is likely to give the innovations of small and mid-sized businesses an outsized footprint. Information Age quotes David Moschella, the author of new research from the Leading Edge Forum, as saying “Virtually every type of human intelligence is becoming the basis of a scalable, cloud-based, global business model. This is greatly accelerating (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Intelligence) innovation – creating huge new opportunities and potentially disruptive industry scenarios.” OPEN is blunt about the need to utilize innovations like the Internet of Things: “Small businesses must leverage this paradigm shift or die.” The organizations that are able to use these innovations as a launching pad for their own new ideas, will be the ones that thrive, and grow.
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