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Bridging the innovation gap

Do you find innovation in your business either just doesn’t happen, or if it does, the wrong things get worked on? I can tell by the nodding heads you all work for my company, or is this a pervasive issue right through all our businesses today?

Would you all like to see innovation become a successful part of your work and life? Would you like innovation to bridge the gap between failure and success?

 

The founder of Firestone Tyres, Harvey Firestone said, Capital isn’t so important in business. Experience isn’t so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.

Today we are going to explore how you can innovate for more success in your life and your business. And in doing so we are going to explore the four key success factors in innovation

Howard Aiken a pioneer in computing once said “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Of course that is why you are here today, to have my ideas rammed down your throats. Lucky you

 

If you want to turn your business and your life successes around you need to follow these four success factors in innovation:

 

  1. Challenging Orthodoxy
  2. Harnessing Trends
  3. Leveraging Resources
  4. Understanding Needs

Today, I’m going to take you on a journey through these key success factors so that you can become more successful at whatever you do, tomorrow.

  1. It’s time, right now to Challenge some orthodoxy, challenge the way things have always been done, challenge what others say is not achievable. Lets take something simple such as the humble watermelon. Tastes great, fantastic on a summers day, but it has one problem, it’s a funny oval shape that does not stack well and as a result of this funny shape, it takes up lots of room. Well some Japanese farmers heard the plight of the grocers who didn’t have the room for unstackable watermelons, who had been told by countless suppliers that watermelons were oval and that was that, deal with it. Now these farmers, hearing the plight of their customers embarked on a mission to see what they could do. Genetics was out of the question, it was far too expensive and unpredictable to say the least, no there had to be a cheaper option. Then one bright fellow suggested growing them in boxes, sure enough the watermelons filled the boxes, grew into square shapes and grocers had an instant space saving product on their shelves. Not only did the grocers like it but the customers liked it also because they could store them easier in their fridges and let’s face it, square watermelons are easier to cut than round ones. As an added bonus, the growers could charge a premium for their watermelons, so they were happy too! Einstein said once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can start creating the future, and that is exactly what these farmers did. Mind you, Einstein also said the secret to innovation is hiding your sources.
  2. Harnessing Trends is all about getting a grip on all the changes taking place in the world today, it’s about recognising a trend and doing something about it. A classic example is Nokia, Nokia used to do boots called Nokians and then they switched to cell phones and became a world wide success. The founder of BYD ( a Chinese based company) said if mobile telephony is the trend then why don’t we become the premium supplier of mobile phone batteries, and they are today, supplying 90% of the world’s mobile phone batteries. Jumping on the curve, harnessing the trend caused this founder to become the richest man in china within 10 years. He then said what’s the next trend? Seeing the value in electric cars he set his company on a course of becoming the next premium supplier of rechargeable batteries to automobiles, The priius success story is in part thanks to the trend harnessing forethought of this one man and his company.
  3. Leveraging the resources you already have is an important factor in becoming truly successful in innovation, many companies and individuals already possess the talent and resource pool to become incredibly successful – what would happen if we took your core competencies, recombined with assets, and put it in a new context to add new value. This is exactly what Disney did in 3 dimensional entertainment such as Theme parks, recombining with current assets and experience in entertainment, then putting it in a new context to add a new product called broadway to their portfolio, turning animated productions into theatre productions which have since become box office hits and incredibly successful and profitable.
  4. Understanding needs especially unmet needs is key to driving a successful culture of innovation in your company. Every company has customers with needs, and every company has customers with unmet needs! It’s up to you to spend time investigating what these are. It’s about asking the right questions and addressing them in the right way. For example What’s wrong with tyres today? Not much, except they have air in them and are therefore prone to punctures, deflation, valve issues, excessive wear and tear, cause significant road noise, cause excessive fuel consumption and many other issues. What Britek have done is taken the tyre and removed the air, creating an entirely new tyre that is bound to a wheel cushioned by a specialised spring technology. Britek have created what they call their ERW or energy return wheel that not only reduces fuel consumption by returning energy to the rotation of the wheel, it removes the issues caused by having air in your tyre and is completely re-treadable. It’s innovation like this that is not only going to create the mega businesses of tomorrow it is also extremely personally satisfying to be involved in.

  

Have you taken your innovation to this level? Do you want to make a start but don’t know where or how? The most important thing is that you start, take what you have learned here and start, step out on that bridge of life and engage it. Learn to think in terms of the four success factors in innovation, challenging orthodoxy, Harnessing trends, Leveraging Resources and Understanding needs, success is built by those who don’t give up, in fact Thomas Edison said some of the biggest failures in the known world were because people gave up right before they got their break through. There’s a reason the Chinese have a saying, the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago, the next best time is now. Start planting your trees now, how else do you expect to get the timber for your bridge from failure to success!

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