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Focus on these things to succeed in Executive Leadership / General Management

Ten ways to ensure innovation is driving your company’s future.


Is your company innovative?  Are you doing your part?

Does your company have an R&D group that appears very busy to everyone, spends millions of dollars, and never seems to roll out any success stories?   Do you wonder how other companies manage to stay one step ahead of yours in the marketplace? Do you have a “follow the market leader” strategy since you don’t have the finances to invest in your own innovation?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I have to break the news…your company is definitely not innovative.  Don’t worry; we have a solution that wont cost millions of dollars, but it will build an innovation mindset that shows results.

Innovation is necessary for any company to be successful over time.  A great idea may create a business that results in short term success, but it is the ongoing accumulation of positive change that makes a company innovative.  Innovation can start with you.  No matter what your job, you can lead the mindset and get others to follow.  Here are ten ways to ensure ongoing success for your organization.  I challenge you to incorporate one or more of these concepts into your own daily activities.

1)   Your company should have a new product or service to roll out every quarter of every year.

It may seem like an impossible task if you have been dormant for a while, but it is actually very realistic when you have an innovative mindset.  Innovation is a perception that brings on more innovation.  It may be a new packaging concept, a refreshed product idea, an add-on service, quality or accounting initiative, or a product reformatted for a different market or application.  The ideas are endless when you take a full business-wide approach to innovation.

2)   Allocate 75% of Innovation dollars to develop short-term products and services led by your marketing team & supported by R&D, 25% to longer-term pie in the sky developments led by the R&D group.

R&D leaders will not be happy about this, but it makes sense when you evaluate the results.  Innovation is a constant movement.  R&D does not show constant results, so put all your investment there?  Short-term initiatives, like the examples I listed above in #1, need resources to make them a reality.  When you spend the majority of your development resources there, your profits will build and the actual dollar amount allocated to R&D will increase in the long-term as your profits increase.

3)   Human Resources should lead a professional development initiative that reaches all levels of the organization.

Innovation is driven by people, so make sure you are keeping your employees fresh by training them to excel in their fields and exposing them to concepts that you want to have commonplace in your organization such as Project Management Skills, Innovation and Customer Service.

4)   Sales, Business Development & Customer Service should work in harmony and lead an interactive customer initiative throughout the company.

This group should project the customer’s voice, and the rest of the organization should respond accordingly.  Ongoing reports of initiatives, responsiveness and customer feedback should be distributed to, and followed by, the entire company.

5)   The Quality Department should incorporate standards of excellence in each department of the organization.

Quality and consistency should be incorporated into every aspect of the customer experience and therefore every aspect of your company’s existence.  This is a selling point to customers and allows for innovation to be captured and recreated for the masses through the spread of best practice initiatives.

6)   The Operations Group should be involved with key accounts and hold a seat at the table during marketing meetings.

Operations should not be behind the scenes, it must hold itself accountable for customer issues and have direct dialog with key accounts (with the involvement of sales/customer service).  The innovation process will speed up considerably if operations plays a role on the marketing team rather than be brought into the discussion later in the idea cycle.

7)   The Logistics & Procurement organization should be focused on building flexibility into customer service methods.

These are two areas that can provide innovative services to your customers.  In fact, you are probably already doing things for some customers that you can expand upon and offer as a new innovation across the board.  Just-in-time services, creative packaging systems and innovative material solutions, just to name a few.

8)   IT & Accounting groups should provide updated tools to all areas of the organization.

They should be creating tools designed to maintain accessible and just-in-time information both internally and externally.  These are service organizations that should be accountable for providing innovative services.

9)   Trained professional project managers should lead integration initiatives.

Eliminate great ideas being lost to poor implementation and execution.  By developing trained individuals in your organization to lead multidiscipline initiatives, you will ensure your success.

10)  Executive & Middle Management teams should coordinate their activities.

Leadership at all levels must be involved in, and continuously driving the company’s innovation momentum.  Every department in the company should have its own mission that is aligned with the overall company strategy.  Management must be involved and ensure all spokes of the wheel are aligned.

I want to leave you with one last thought to tie this concept together.  The Wheel remains one of the most important innovations of our civilization.  It gives us motion and allows us to move forward, but without momentum and direction the wheel will fall down or go in the wrong direction.  A truly innovative company has the mentality and motion of a wheel that is guided by leadership, and kept together by each spoke of the company doing their part to make the wheel turn.  We have outlined ten ways you can make this innovative momentum a reality in your company.  Be creative and think of how you can personally drive this forward in your job, your department and in your company.  What training do you need, what ideas do you have, what role can you play in this success?



Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


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