Business survival calls for innovation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The pace of change in today&8217;s business world is extreme. The globalization of the U.S. economy continues to impact virtually every industry. Your toughest competitor may be just down the road or 3,000 miles away in another country. Your business is also likely dealing with demanding customers who expect to receive high quality, fast service and the lowest price possible. Consumers today do more value shopping than ever before.

To meet the demands of today&8217;s intensely competition world, many businesses are stressing the need for employees to become more innovative. For example, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt spends a substantial amount of time encouraging the people of GE to think and act innovatively. He backs up this talk by ensuring that promising product and service innovations receive adequate funding. While not all turn out to successful, many are.

New ideas are the live blood of business so how do we get employees to constantly think about innovation? The following is a short list of actions that you can take.

Know your customer like never before. This sounds simple but in reality it isn&8217;t. Consumer culture (a new buzz term) is all about anticipating what consumers will want in the future even before it becomes apparent.

Thinking innovatively must be part of the fundamental way your company does business. It cannot be just a special project or assigned to only selected employees.

Risk taking to innovate must be encouraged, recognized and rewarded.

NIH (not invented here) thinking must be eliminated. GE has a long and successful history of taking ideas from other businesses and adapting them to add value to their organization.

Every business has the potential to improve significantly. A great place to start is with your existing customers. Solicit their opinions constantly. And by way, when was the last time you asked your staff for their ideas and opinions about your business?

To survive and thrive in today&8217;s fast changing ultra-competitive world, innovation must become part of your company&8217;s culture. The time to start on this mission is now