This week’s launch of Apple’s flagship device, the iPhone, is a perfect illustration of the challenges of an innovative company sustaining innovation over many years. The last few models of the iPhone have been labelled by many as iterative instead of innovative. Moreover, some have suggested that Apple is no longer innovative post-Steve Jobs.
While major product advances make headlines, it’s the consistent incremental innovations made by employees every day that arguably gives an organization the sustained growth it needs.
The need for constant reinvention is a given in today’s business environment. And while a breakthrough concept like the iPhone can catapult a company ahead of its competitors, these days, that advantage is can be short-lived. Additionally, companies pursuing sustainable innovations must do so in a modern world in which new and tantalizing breakthroughs are continually distracting consumers and investors from recognizing the value of known solutions.
It should go without saying that there are fundamental differences between companies and the challenges they face. The best practices for an internet giant will not be the same for a century old conglomerate. The different contexts in which companies compete, and the unique challenges they face in those contexts, require diverse competences. Innovation looks different and will be defined differently by the individual according to his situation.
However, there is sufficient commonality that learnings can be applied to most situations. Sustained innovation comes from strong leadership, developing a collective sense of purpose and bold action; from ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and a culture that does not penalize innovation; and from unbridling the creativity of people throughout your organization while rewarding and teaching them how to recognize unconventional opportunities.
In short, it starts at the top
Leaders create the psychological environment that fosters sustained innovation at all levels. Are you taking the lead in promoting an innovative culture? Otherwise, it’s just not going to happen.
Need help innovating? Reach out!
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