Business Innovation Goes Beyond Fear

Business innovation will always be a hot topic today and 50 years into the future. Staying ahead of the flow and therefore the competition helps organizations and individuals to go beyond surviving to thriving. Over at Blogging Innovation, the author, Mitch Ditkoff, provided 50 ways to foster a culture of innovation.

One recurring theme was the removal of Fear. (Way #2) This is a kindred spirit of the “Status Quo” of the human condition not to change. Part of the reason is within our genetic make up. To change requires energy and our bodies are wired for self preservation. Dedicating energy away from our own internal prime directive (fight or flight) is a conscious and continued action. Additionally automatic pilot makes it far easier to get through some of the more monotonous

Another reason is probably due to our own internal talents such as “Self Esteem,” “Role Awareness,” “Self Confidence,” “Personal Accountability” and “Self Direction.” When these specific talents are not high, then making decision to change, to think differently (decide to do something different) will simply not happen because self doubt expressed through negative self talk now creeps in. Of course most people do not truly know their talents and this lack of knowledge potentially inhibits their capacity to being open to innovation.

How many times have we said something like, “We cannot do it that way?” or “We have never done it that way?” or “That just cannot be done!”? These remarks are reflective of self doubt created by Fear. And then what happens? Nothing which is something as indecision is a decision and therefore an action.

Years ago I discovered this acronym for FEAR:

  • False
  • Evidence
  • Appearing
  • Real

Much of what we fear including change and the ability to accept different thoughts is because we have not validated what may happen. Thomas Edison who failed miserably so many times had a good mental thought because he recognized that each mistake was not the best way to solve the problem. John Maxwell in his book, Failing Forward described how mistakes are truly part of that potentially immobilizing fear syndrome.

Business innovation requires leaders from the C Suite to the frontline to let go of fear, to be able to rethink what they are currently doing. The goal is improve organizational and individual performance. What this looks like is different for each firm and person. However without innovation, mankind might still be living in caves instead of walking on the moon.

Start At The Intersection of Customer Needs and Company Capability

If you want to see innovation happening in real time, then you have to look in the private sector and the fast-moving companies that are making it happen in their respective industries. How do you think I know this? You see, before I retired I was a franchisor founder. We created a whole new industry, and we changed the status quo of the way things were done previously. We did this by finding out what the customers needed, what we were capable of, and then determined if we could make a profit solving their problems. When we could, we explained this to the customer and we innovated as needed.

Now then, I would submit to you that business innovation actually starts at the intersection of the customer’s needs and your company’s capability. In this case you are nothing more than a super sales team solving problems in the marketplace using non-conventional wisdom, creativity, and a can-do attitude. In other words, you will find a way to solve their problem, deliver that solution, and do as much innovation as needed to make it all happen.

Let me give you a for instance. Our company was in the cleaning of fleets of vehicles, but one time CSX railway asked us to clean some coal railcars which were made of aluminum, and they were 50 years old, and probably hadn’t been cleaned and 20 years. They wanted them clean for one of their best customers, but they didn’t know how to get that done. Since we knew a little bit about cleaning aluminum from the aviation and aircraft cleaning sector we contacted our vendor of soap products to see if they had something which was inexpensive to use that might work in this process.

It turns out they did have a product, so we got with our chemist and added some other components to it. Then we modified our equipment with dual-lance wands, and extra tanks for the soap solution and the deionized water rinse. We also created a new high-volume reclaim system and connected it to giant slip and slides to collect the water and funnel it to a collection point. We simply made it work using a little creativity and innovation. From there, the word got out and we were lined up with other railcars to clean and opened up an entirely new market for our company.

You can do the same thing in your business regardless of industry sector, if you will merely stop and think in the same way. Ask your customer what they need, use your expertise, borrow information and ideas from other industries, and put it all together with new procedures to make it work. If you’re looking for business innovation, these are the types of places you will find it happening. Please consider all this and think on it.

Basics of Business Innovation

For most companies to grow, they must incorporate innovation into their business strategies. And as corporations innovate, they will need to accommodate for the resulting growth. The success of business innovation is seen with how organizations approach it and ultimately how it is managed.

Innovation can result in either phenomenal success or even a less-that-optimal outcome. The key is to be strategic and tactical when approaching and implementing your innovation plan. If your organization has recently embraced innovation into its business strategy and is now experiencing a darkening atmosphere of crisis amongst the employees, negative impacts on company finances and budget, or being led astray from the mission statements of your organization, step back and reassess your situation. How can you develop business strategies and business models that create growth and success with new and improved business value and better working relationships?

Organizational problems? Concerns? Is business just not quite where you would expect? Whether it has been caused by complex mergers and acquisitions or from restructuring and innovation, research will suggest proven techniques that can work for your organization. Every business encounters periods of peaks and periods of struggle. And through each phase, you try to balance the various pieces of information and advice to ensure that you can mitigate the negative effects of change and jump on the potential opportunities.

Conduct an internal review of your business health. Start with a check-up on the financial health of your organization. Then diagnose risks and opportunities by creating a maximum of ten recommendations. Determine a treatment plan to problems with best practice techniques. Finally plot a wellness program through an ongoing review to ensure your organization maintains its fiscal health and overall growth. Get started on the path to greater profitability, achieve a better ordering of priorities, and manage the chaos of the business innovation transition.

When the time has come for your organization to embrace business innovation, some of you will conduct the process with internal resources. Others will question the independence of their internal group or their ability to do a quality job with their existing work schedules. The second group may also prefer to obtain an independent and seasoned second opinion.

Whichever group you are in, the key is to actually do something. Far too many of you have seen paralysis of analysis as the comments begin months later when nothing was done.

Bottom line? – Risks are what really go wrong when you are not looking: stupid things like bounced checks, losing your best customers or best people when you are blindsided.

You need a perspective of business under the microscope and to have lived to tell the tale. After analyzing and helping over 200 companies, I have learned one key point:”What You Don’t Know About Your Business Can Cost You Your Business.”

From the author of the newly released book, ‘Stick Out Your Balance Sheet & Cough: Best Practices for Long Term Business Health’. Available on Amazon. So open this book and say Profit.