22 May “R+D: Let’s innovate!
I would like to begin this post by asking to reflect on the following question: Can a company really be competitive without innovation? What do you think?
If we analyze the “Fortune 500” ranking of companies with the highest turnover on the planet in 1955, only 20% are still in this ranking today, which means that 80% of them have disappeared. The companies that have survived have done so thanks to their commitment to innovation.
If we pay heed to the conclusions of the World Innovation Survey, 20% of the most innovative companies in the world will grow by 62% over the coming five years. As we can see, growth and innovation go hand in hand. This idea is taking more and more hold in society. No politician or businessman goes without mentioning innovation in his speech. Hundreds of pages and thousands of bits make their way into newspapers and blogs every day talking about the advantages of innovating, we can be sure of that, but innovation does not just magically appear, you have to work at it and look for it. It should be a crucial tool for businesses and we need to pick up the speed so as not to get stagnant.
Surely you remember companies that were leaders in their sector only a few years ago, such as Atari, Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Olivetti and many more.
Whatever happened to them? Well, quite simply, they stopped innovating.
So we are clear on this, right? We must innovate in order to be competitive, but how do we do this?
This first thing in order to innovate is to generate the necessity for innovation all around you. Innovating is, before anything else, an attitude towards life, a way of confronting things.
There are certain areas of a company (increasingly less and less) or specific personalities who distrust change; they feel much more safe and comfortable in their habitual routine, in their comfort zone. You only need to observe people’s reaction when you launch something new and you see how some approach change with an open mind and willing to analyze the virtues of this novelty, and how there is also another group of people whose first reaction is defensive, people who think that no change was really necessary or that the former product was better. Although this can be frustrating, we must prepare ourselves to work with these people, pushing to achieve a commitment and learning to guide them in the development of innovation.
Sometime a brilliant idea is enough to become successful, however, these ideas can seem crazy, and nobody would bet on them, but they have made the people who backed them up successful. The ideas of putting a piece of candy on a stick or a new-fashioned mop for washing floors come to mind. Which ones are you thinking of?
In Rieusset we like to see innovation as a process. We should not rush to get to the end, but rather enjoy the way. The challenges are dynamic, wherefore the disadvantages, answers and solutions are dynamic as well.
Innovation, although it may be chaotic, usually follows a normal order. A few years ago I read a book which talked about the “innovation funnel”, where a rain of ideas came in the wide part and went through a series of filters until maturing and ending up as real and impacting innovation.
The funnel would have the following order:
Rain of ideas ⇒ Opportunities ⇒ Projects ⇒ Prototypes ⇒ Innovation
Now that we are getting to the end of this post, I ask myself: How should we handle innovation? What should a company’s innovation leader be like?
In Rieusset we believe that the innovation leader of a company should create a culture of collaboration and idea collection, and create a balance between urgency and patience in the development of new ideas without discouraging us when faced with ideas that don’t prosper since the important thing is having them.
In future posts we will talk about the steps we are taking in Rieusset in Innovation. Will you help us?