InnovationInnovation can be iterative and lineal, as in re-engineering a product component or a work process. It can also be transformational, when entirely new technologies are discovered, such as life changing medical devices like the pacemaker, the Cochlear Implant, or the personal computer. Others come to mind, such as the automobile, or the internet.

All were truly breakthrough technologies enhancing lives, cultures, and impacting global economies. These inventions resulted from deep thinking, iteration, and persistence. The scientists and engineers engaged in each innovation might not have been thinking of the competition as they developed their ideas. Rather, they were focused on solving a customer problem, and continued to invent despite great odds against success.

“Innovation can happen in the least likely places…the places we don’t think can (or should) ever be changed.”, says Rick Smith in this great post on his Simplivative blog site.  It describes how Billy Beane from the Oakland Athletics revolutionized the ‘art’ of scouting in baseball, and in the process, “He changed baseball…forever!”

When competition is the primary consideration, the real target is missed. Building long term growth and enduring value starts with building a culture of innovation, where processes, products, and technologies can be developed, evaluated, checked, and iterated. Innovations resulting from within a nurturing culture have a real impact on organizations, industries, and economies.

And if the innovative process is centered on optimize the customer experience, it might just wind up disrupting an entire industry.

Trojan Horse Strategy – Innovative, or Disruptive
Remember the Trojan Horse?  This military strategy used by the Greeks won for them a long running battle with Troy.  The Greeks loaded a wooden horse with troops secretly placed inside, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy while the Greeks pretended to sail away in defeat. At night, the Greek soldiers came out of their hiding place, and opened the gates of Troy for the rest of the Greek army who had sailed back during the night. The Greeks decisively ended the 10 year war with Troy with a surprise strategy that was [more]
The Value of Respect
Barron's recently published results from its annual survey of institutional investors about their views of the world's top 100 companies, based on market cap as of May 12, 2014. This cross section of U.S. money managers ranked companies on the basis of 1. Strong management, 2. Ethical business practices, 3. Sound business strategy, 4. Competitive edge, and 5. Product Innovation. Barron's has been conducting this survey since 2005, and uses a numerical scale relating to four statements of Highly Respect , Respect, Respect Somewhat, and Don't respect. The results are a ranked list of the World's Most Respected Companies. The [more]
Leaders in the New Economy must orient their companies to identify all customer touch points in every work category within their organizations, creating innovative processes which MAP to the customer experience. Then, each mapped process must be tested refined and improved before formal implementation. Enduring companies today have the Customer Experience at the core of what they do, and have customer experience mapping processes in place to prove it. Many newer companies like Zappos, Airbnb, Under Armour, LinkedIn, and many others have discovered what Disney, Harley - Davidson, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, and Sewell Cadillac have known for decades. If your [more]
In a recent Peer to Peer discussion with some CEO’s, most were defensive on the topic of how to deliver an outstanding customer experience. They mostly felt that their employees were always focused on the customer. One CEO said his company has data showing their consistent delivery of full customer satisfaction through customer surveys reflecting on time deliveries, rapid response rates on corrective actions, on time billing, and so forth. Most companies today think they are focused on the customer. They know that because they train all employees to be focused on the customer, to try harder every day [more]
Good leaders understand that an inspirational Vision, supported by enduring Core Values, with Goals that are in alignment with the current mission are all critical factors in a successful organization. They understand why they do what they do, and are clear about their purpose. However, many companies today often lack one critical element, ONE MAIN THING that all leaders need to create, endorse, live out, and drive within their organizations. Leaders and their team members throughout the organization need to have an overarching passion for this one thing which drives the company forward, creating and sustaining long term stakeholder value. [more]
Quotations from luminaries whether in business, sports, medicine, law, or politics can inspire and clarify. A great quote is concise and crisp, capturing a thought or idea in an entirely new way. Great quotes can speak directly into our own unique situations. One quote from Peter Drucker on leadership said ‘Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.’ Of course, he is right about getting results, but in my own view Drucker is a little shortsighted, leaving a lot on the table for debate. Boards often discuss the performance of the [more]