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StrategyDriven Innovation Article

Staying Ahead Of The Game In Your Business

StrategyDriven Innovation Article
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Business can be a very fraught environment. There’s a lot of stress and pressure, which makes it hard for people to consider certain parts of their operation. Over time, this can have a serious impact on your business. So, it isn’t worth letting things go. It’s important to make sure that you remember to keep your business on the rise when it comes to the technology and tools that you use. Getting left behind in this area could also see you left behind when it comes to business. To help you out, this post will be going through some of the best ways to make sure that you’re staying ahead of the game.

If you want to stay of ahead of the game when it comes to business; you have to stay ahead of technology. Of course, not a lot of people find this field to be that interesting. But, knowing what’s going on gives you some major resources. For one, it will mean that you know exactly what you need to be buying to get the best deals. It will give you insider knowledge of an industry that your business will almost certainly rely on. And, it can help you to make sure that you always know what’s around the corner. There are loads of resources to help you with something like this. One of the best ways to stay ahead is through a forum, like the LinusTechTips forum. Loads of YouTube channels have their own sites like this, and they can be very helpful.

Next, once you know what you need to buy; you need to know exactly how to use it. Now, depending on your industry, you’ll be getting different types of tech. So, learning how to use it could take some time. This is especially true for anything involved in manufacturing. Whether you work with plastics and use scientific injection molding, or you work with metal and use CNC lathes; a course will be the best option. This will give you the wealth of knowledge that you will need to not only do your job but be confident to fix problems as they come up. You can do the same when it comes to computers, too. You just have to make sure that your training is kept up-to-date to make sure that you’re not missing any new trends.

One of the hardest parts of this process for a business is updating and upgrading the equipment that they use. Thankfully, when it comes to manufacturing; most machines will be able to be used for years. But, computers are a different story. Computers don’t age well at all. So, it’s hard to make sure that you keep them in the best possible working order. One of the best ways to solve this problem is by not buying your computers at all. Instead, you can borrow them from another company. That way, when updates come out; you’ll be able to get your hands on the latest tech, without the expense.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be done if you want to stay ahead in the world of business and technology. All modern business relies on technology. And, without it; most businesses can’t run. So, it’s important to consider keeping your computers as up-to-date as you possible can.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

The External Factors Affecting Your Business

Try as you might, you will never really “own” your business. It is too much part of a bigger network that is too far beyond your control for that. While there might be plenty of directions you want to take your company in, you’ll also be subject to the whims and plans of your fellow humans, who all too often (it can feel like) have plans that are out of sync with your own. Here are just a few of the ways your business can be affected by external factors, to which you only have a passing, observing role.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Political
A thriving economy relies on there being not too many things rocking the boat. You can see the way the stock market reacts whenever an announcement or decision is made; sometimes it gets a boost, which is its way of saying ‘we approve!’, and sometimes it takes a nosedive, at which point everything gets a bit nervous. With Donald Trump, for instance, no one – including quite possibly Donald Trump – is quite sure which way the economy will go. That one is just for time to figure out, but down the line it could have a knock on effect to your business. A good economy means you’re in the best possible position to succeed. Also, you’ll notice how things can get a bit twitchy whenever there’s political unrest, more commonly when it’s overseas. A destabilised China, for instance, can have effects that spread across the world, such is the way all our economies are interlinked.

Your Business Partners

It’s all good and well keeping your own house in order. It’s all good and well operating at full capacity, with the books in order and things slowly progressing just fine and dandy. But how many other businesses do you rely on for your success? You’re probably more wrapped up in the well-being of other companies than you think. For instance, how does the software you rely on influence your success? You might want to look at a service such as software escrow, which would give you access to the software you depend on should the software company fold. Elsewhere, you could face major difficulties if your suppliers unexpectedly fold. You can’t stop that from happening, but you can make sure you have the contingency plans in place so that you’re able to handle any temporary setbacks relating to stock and so forth. Essentially, it’s important not to be too reliant on any other single company.

Trends

You’re at the top of your game at the moment, right on the cutting edge of what’s new and fresh. You’re part of a movement that is going places! Only, it’ll only be going places up until the time when it’s not. Take a look through history and everything that was once ‘hot’ ended up being pretty ‘not’ in the end. You only need to look at what passed as fashion twenty (or any number) years ago to see that things really do change. Did the people wearing the clothes back then think they’d one day look so lame? Of course not! Did Blockbuster think there would always be a demand for home videos? Probably! Trends come and go. The important thing is to realise that ‘trendy’ doesn’t really mean anything, and that you shouldn’t be relying on it for your success. Always make sure you’re looking to the future, especially if the industry you’re in is prone to change.

External Innovation: Good

Not every external factor is bad, of course. In fact, all the ones listed above can be good if the cards fall nicely enough. This positive change also extends to innovation, which as we all know is essentially what’s making the economy thrive in recent years. And it looks like it’s here to stay. Innovation is creating new markets, new products, new services, new just about everything, and it’s happening all the time. Every year, there are new services that help to streamline businesses and make them less dependent on other factors. You should be keeping your ear out for the developments that will aid your business. Everybody else will, and to not do so you run the risk of falling behind. Make sure you’re reading up on all the best business online blogs and reading your industry magazines; it’ll keep you fresh.

External Innovation: Bad

With that being said, not all innovation will be there to give you a boost. In fact, sometimes it’ll come along and put you right out of business. This has been happening for centuries, with new products popping up that resulted in massive shifts in the economy. We see it today, with Uber versus traditional taxi companies. No matter who you are and how successful your business is, you should always be ready to face oblivion. It’s the way innovation works. If you’re worried about an emerging company or trend, then look at diversifying your business – but do it well in advance. The number of jobs that may be lost – and industries taken of – by robots in the coming decades should be an eyeopener for many business leaders.

Environmental Factors

Sometimes, the factors that affect your business has nothing at all to do with other humans. It’s all about that grand old mother earth, our home. We think we know a lot about the environment, but we don’t – and unfortunately, we’re about to know a whole lot less once climate change really gets underway. A changing climate will affect a lot, from how things are produced (if they’re able to be at all) and how they get around the world. It’ll also bring more extreme weather, so making sure you have business insurance and cloud storage will be essential.

Predicting The Changes
You don’t know what will happen in the world, because no one does. But you can be prepared by keeping on top of global events – not just what’s happening in your industry, but in all the industries that branch out from your own too. We’re all connected in the end!

Randal C. Moss

The Wrong Way To Innovate: When Unrealistic Expectations Meet Antiquated Management

Innovation has always been culturally synonymous with ‘the latest and greatest’, the ‘next big thing’, and on the surface this true. Companies like to rollout their innovations at trade shows and industry events to garner attention and praise for their good work.

While there are a lot of best practices, many companies tailor their efforts to their corporate structure and industry. Innovation luminaries like Coca Cola, General Electric, Shell Oil innovate effectively because they have structural elements in common, and they work to avoid a number of key pitfalls executing innovation work.

Sprints vs. Marathons

Usain Bolt has never run a mile,1 and great innovation centers have similar focus. Innovation initiatives that lack focus will rarely be able to deliver exponential innovation – the kind of output that creates new categories and literally makes steaks from organization’s sacred cow. Phil Swisher, former Global Head of Innovation at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Innovation Leader that “to maximize impact and outcomes, you’re relying on the senior executive sponsor (ideally the CEO) to provide the permission and space for the team to go after the really big opportunities, including the ones which are threatening to the status quo of the company.” Without executive support expect your Innovation initiatives to deliver only innovations like new product features, colors, and line extensions.

A Kilo of Feathers or A Kilo of Bricks

Insists on using the traditional and standard measurements on innovation projects, and you get standard and traditional outputs. Be purposeful in defining value creation for your innovation practice. Know what kind of value you want and encourage it by design.

Coca Cola’s Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation David Butler provided some insights to Innovation Leader on how he evaluates his center’s activities. David says “We track progress just like a VC does, in this case. We look right at growth metrics, the things that really matter.”2 This is a startup, so financial performance is never the first thing to measure. A sure fire way to discourage innovation is to expect immediate revenue.

Location, Location, Location

Where you locate your innovation center within your organization matters. Some companies like Trek Bicycles locates their R&D Skunkworks directly into their business units to accelerate buy-in. Alphabet (Google) moved their social innovation lab (Jigsaw) out of the organization so that it could operate independently. The American Cancer Society built it’s Futuring and Innovation Center within the organization to maximize connectivity. Avoid creating it under the auspices of a strict operational or financial leader determined to conform the outputs to legacy metrics.

Total Secrecy Is Totally Wrong

An innovation project can energize an organization – so showcase the great work to generate excitement and even a little bit of envy. When a employees see the work they’ll ask how they can get involved. The exponential value accumulates when you generate broad engagement – when your innovation center attracts inputs from across the organization. Diverse minds share diverse ideas that can generate new value. Having confidentiality is expected, but secrecy and needless exclusivity impede value creation.

Opening and operating an internal innovation initiative is a daunting challenge. It requires executive support, careful forethought and a leader with the courage to take risks. But if an organization can methodically plan and execute the stand-up and delivery they can realize exponential value creation.


About the Author

Randal C. MossRandal C. Moss is an award winning marketer who focuses on engaging organizations and applying technology to drive growth. He has over 12 years of experience including institutionalizing innovation development frameworks, and creating consumer engagement solutions for companies and clients across the CPG, Real Estate, and nonprofit sectors. Randal has spoken at conferences such as SXSW (3X), State of Play, National Human Services Assembly National Meeting, Disney Institute’s Digital Now, and the American Marketing Association Hot Topic Tour.

Randal’s first book, with co-author David J. Neff, is The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age (Wiley). Their newest book, IGNITE: Setting your Organization’s Culture on Fire with Innovation was released in August 2016.

References

  1. Usain Bolt Has Never Run a Mile (No, Really), Time, Staff Writers
  2. Innovation Leader Magazine Spring 2016
  3. Under pressure, Lockheed opens up about secret weapons unit, Reuters, Andrea Shalal and Howard Goller
Maxwell Luthy

Scan for the 3 key ingredients of trends to survive in the Expectation Economy

Right now, at this very minute, there are hundreds if not thousands of brands out there heightening your customers’ expectations. Companies like Google are heightening expectations around data-driven personalization. Patagonia is spreading expectations around supply chain transparency. Periscope is creating entirely new expectations around media consumption. Tesla is rewriting expectations around how drivers purchase a vehicle. If you work for a small firm or a giant organization, in fashion or finance, in Texas or Tanzania, you are competing in a ruthless, globe-spanning Expectation Economy.


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About the Author

Maxwell LuthyMaxwell Luthy is the author of the new book Trend-Driven Innovation. Based in New York, Max runs TrendWatching’s North American business, regularly delivering keynotes and workshops for leading brands, from Disney to Samsung. Max has been quoted as a trend expert in the Financial Times, The Next Web, and strategy+business. Max also oversaw the TW:IN trend spotter network until 2013, hosting meetups everywhere from Johannesburg to Manila. A contributor to five of TrendWatching’s most-recent annual Trend Reports, Max now lives in the oft-overlooked trend hotspot of New Jersey.

Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World

Are you prepared to get vaporized? During the past twenty years I’ve worked with companies all over the world, big and small, helping them to craft a strategy so they can transition from the old world of producing physical products to a new world in which most things tangible – products, devices, stores, and even companies – will simply disappear forever to be replaced by invisible software.  I call this getting vaporized.

My motto is “Whatever can be vaporized will be.” That means any part of your business or product that can be replaced by pure digital information almost certainly will be.

You can’t stop this transformation process because dozens or even hundreds of other companies are already working on it. They are catering to the two billion consumers wielding smartphones who demand instant access to apps and services.

For start-up ventures with no stake in the old physical economy, this poses no particular challenge – just a wealth of opportunities.  But for old-school bureaucracies, it’s a scary new world that requires managers to rethink the basic principles that govern established businesses.

From health care to handbags, no industry is immune. At least some portion of every firm’s activity will be transformed from the old-school physical industrial process into a vaporized state of information available on demand. You won’t be able to stop this process, but if you react soon enough, you will at least have the option to determine how and when you will respond.

The secret to success when technology is driving change rapidly in an established industry is to envision possibilities that many consider unthinkable: to make an effort to envision what a disruptive change might look like, and how it will transform the entire business process. That’s easier said than done. To do so, you have to set aside everything that made your company a big success and focus on the changes that will wipe all of that success away. This is not an easy exercise for anyone.  To get started, ask yourself the following questions:


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About the Author

Robert TercekRobert Tercek invents the digital future. He has launched satellite TV networks, the first video on mobile phones, multimedia games, and live interactive learning programs. He provides strategic insight to Turner Broadcasting, InterPublic Group, PBS, and other firms. He previously served in executive leadership at MTV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and most recently as President of Digital Media at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. And is the author of VAPORIZED: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World, For more information, go to: http://www.roberttercek.com/