Innovation begins with the CEO

Like many industries, our industry is undergoing significant changes. Some companies will not survive, as their leaders cling to the past, dig in their heels, or bury their heads in the sand. Other companies will charge into the future, guided by leaders seeking new opportunities to add value to their customer’s lives. The difference between these two groups is their ability to innovate; to periodically reinvent themselves and refresh their product/service offerings.

 

I’ve seen many companies in our industry grow quickly and their leaders be held up as geniuses only to watch them fade away and disappear; here today and gone tomorrow. It’s relatively easy to be successful for a short period of time through hard work or by simply being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

 

More impressive are companies who are able to reinvent themselves over and over again to meet the shifting needs of their customers, recognizing trends of changing markets, and embracing disruptive technologies. They find a way to make it through the valleys and don’t take the peaks for granted.  

 

Innovation begins with the CEO. If you’re the leader of your company, innovation should be high on your priority list, establishing a culture of change and taking specific actions to promote innovation and change. I’d like to suggest three concrete steps that you may want to consider taking.

 

First, actively engage with your top customers. This will open the doors of communication with your most important customers, providing insight into their unique situations and uncovering unstated needs. This knowledge will be extremely valuable during discussions related to innovation and change.

 

Second, proactively seek input from others – your advisors, employees, suppliers, subcontractors, and anyone else who has valuable insight. Create opportunities for input to occur on a regular basis. Make this part of the culture of your company.

 

Third, develop your leadership team. This is a critical element of business success that is often ignored. Your leadership team, if properly established, will be both a primary source of innovative ideas and the decision-making body to take action on these ideas.

 

The bottom line is that if you, the leader, fail to embrace innovation and change, the rest of your company will follow suit. What you choose to do affects everyone in the organization. Never underestimate the power you have to affect others.

 

Innovation is the theme of this year’s PLANET Executive Forum, held February 16-20, 2011. Please consider attending this outstanding educational event to learn more about technology and innovation. Also, please look for my upcoming article, “Creating a Culture of Innovation,” in the March edition of PLANET News.

 

Comments are welcome at philharwood@pro-motionconsultingllc.com. PLANET Member Consultant, Phil Harwood is the founder of Pro-Motion Consulting. Our mission is to help create healthy, profitable, and sustainable businesses. Please visit our website for more information: www.pro-motionconsultingllc.com.

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