Over the past month or so, my personal commitments had kept me from a few things including my active presence on this forum – my apologies. Lately, I have wondered about what makes an enterprise adopt a bold approach toward innovating out of its status quo whereby it emerges more competitive. We have discussed this topic in various ways, but the one fact, that might be somewhat obvious, is courage of leadership that we have not touched on. This courage stems from not only a strong sense of confidence at relevant levels of an enterprise’s leadership that their people are up to the task, but also from a sense that evolution is absolutely necessary in order not to go the way of the dinosaurs.
One example, I have found is in a Harvard Business Review article from the October 2009 issue, titled, “How GE is Disrupting Itself” (Jeffrey Immelt, Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble). The authors report that GE is now engaged in a process called, “reverse innovation.” They explain that this requires a decentralized market focus that clashes with the centralized, product-focused structure that GE and other multinationals had evolved for their global growth reaching deep into local markets. The article focuses on the how and what of this approach. The thought that has occurred to me is, taking this beyond GE, what prompts a company like GE to go down this path and how are they pulling it off? In my mind it is the courage of leadership that brings this about – a realization that status quo is not acceptable and that a new innovative approach could deliver value to their customers and to the company. This courage is reflected in the confidence you demonstrate in your people as well who will deliver on that vision. The people involved must be well-informed and well-versed in the processes of the company (see, the BPXer is important in this !!!).
So if you are a leader within an established organization, don’t hesitate to question status quo – you might be onto something that creates far-reaching value. If you are starting within a new organization, do not hesitate to push the boundaries – there ought to be no sacred cows when it comes to evolving new business models.
[On a personal note, I am taking this to heart. I have just joined a new company to put into practice the notion of how an innovative approach to serving customers can re-define the boundaries. If I said anything further, it would become a shameless plug, which of course, I do not wish to do.]