Press Release: April, 2, 2019
CLAREMONT, CA—Disruptive innovation and effective innovation are not mutually exclusive and successful organizations balance both elements, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC). The key to getting it right is embedding an innovation ecosystem: processes and culture, a risk-taking curious mindset, and great communication.
It Starts with a Culture of Innovation
“Instead of worrying about the next disruptor that might just push you out of business, start by creating a culture of innovation,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known for creating supply chain resiliency. “In today’s business environment, Amazon-like service has become the new standard, yet raising prices isn’t acceptable; therefore, innovation has become a ‘must’.
“Do not hire innovators. Instead, hire exceptional leaders who create an innovative culture. They should convey the future vision and articulate how each employee relates to and contributes to that vision,” she adds. “These leaders will also ask for ideas, encourage creativity, and set up ways for their employees to test new ideas within a reasonable framework. Most importantly, they will celebrate progress, including failures, along the way!”
Invest in Deliberate Creativity for Results
“Innovation does not happen by accident. It is deliberate creative work that leads to innovative results,” says Dr. Amy Climer, who is an innovation consultant and executive coach, as well as host of The Deliberate Creative™ Podcast, where she shares practical advice and strategies to help leaders build innovative teams.
“Most organizations want to be more innovative, yet few have a process to foster creativity within their employees. Creativity is a skill that can be developed with training and practice, just like any other skill. When individuals and teams develop their mindset, skill set, and toolset for deliberate creativity, they develop the ability to innovate on demand,” she notes.
“To foster more disruptive, effective innovation, organizations need to set aside a budget for innovation, be willing to take the risks of launching a new product, process, or approach, focus on teaching employees how to be creative, and foster a culture that appreciates creativity and risk taking,” Climer adds. “The disruptive, effective results can mean an increase in revenue, a decrease in expenses, an increase in employee productivity, and more customers.”
Communicate All Innovations—No Matter How Small
“Many times, innovation and market disruption are part of a firm’s DNA. Successful companies are always integrating solutions that over-deliver and they raise the bar to anticipate a need or meet a client request,” says Kathleen McEntee, President of La Quinta, CA and Chicago, IL-based full-service marketing firm, Kathleen McEntee and Associates, Ltd. and author of the business basics book Being in Business is a Funny Thing, Getting Out is Not!
“The key to market disruption is communicating an innovation, no matter how small. Communication positions an industry leader, distinguishes them from competitors, and raises the bar. Neil Armstrong did it best when he positioned the innovation of space walk: ‘One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind,’ ” she says.
Strong Personalities and Speed of Execution Drive Innovation
“There are two key actions leaders must take to drive innovation,” according to Alan Willett, an expert consultant specializing in high technology and author of the book Leading the Unleadable.
“The first is to put vastly different strong personalities together and let them battle about their ideas. It is out of the heat of constructive friction that breakthrough ideas are born,” he says.
“The second action, often neglected, is to put equal effort into improving the speed of execution. Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Thus. you need to put intelligence into improving speed. You must sweat faster,” Willett notes.
Get a Project Manager with Gravitas
“Long-term innovation in successful organizations is not left up to one hero or genius,” says Stephen Wise, President of Integration Professionals, a firm that helps its clients dramatically improve traction on complex initiatives.
“Managing for innovation is the domain of a Project Manager (PM) with gravitas. The PM must assemble a team from throughout the organization – Sales, Marketing, Legal, Operations, Finance, etc. He or she must set weekly priorities and hold highly structured status meetings frequently. As well, the focus on the end goal must be balanced with agility to respond to changes based on market feedback,” he says.
“Companies do not easily become leading innovators. Executive objectives for innovation can be implemented by Project Managers that develop the right environment for high performance teams to deliver innovative products,” Wise adds.
Celebrity Cruises Rocked the Boat to Float Their Ship
“The purpose of innovation is rarely to be disruptive; it simply often is.”
That’s the summary of Rebecca Morgan, President of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks Inc in Cleveland Ohio. “In too many companies, ‘don’t rock the boat’ seems to be the mantra. Instead of embracing ideas for rapid improvement, there’s a fear of change—for products, for technologies, for processes, and for markets,” she notes.
According to Morgan, “Celebrity Cruises took a completely different approach to building its most recent cruise ship, the Edge. Built like no other ship before, the goal was a better customer experience and reduced operating costs. This $1billion ship was developed using innovative design and construction theories, turning traditional methodologies upside down. Edge is the first ship designed entirely with the use of 3D virtual reality technology,” she says.
“When we quit saying ‘it can’t be done’ is when innovation can leap forward. And for those who insist on more of the same, they will be much more than disrupted; they may well be eliminated,” Morgan adds.
Creating a Climate for Innovation
Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach, trusted leadership advisor and emotional intelligence/mindful leadership consultant, notes, “Innovation is an effort to create purposeful, focused change in an enterprise’s economic or social potential. Organizations that don’t learn to foster creativity will not last long. Businesses have to be designed for change as the norm. They must create change rather than react to it.”
According to Dr. Brusman, “In order to innovate, there must be a fertile atmosphere of creativity. Meaning is the key to engaging creativity. Whenever someone has a burst of creativity, it is because they’ve spent time thinking over some problem or situation that has meaning for them.”
Dr. Brusman advises his clients, “People will be most creative when they feel motivated by their work, in and of itself. When people are engaged because of their own natural interest and satisfaction in their work, they will be challenged to be creative through their own intrinsic motivation.”
Friction’s Not a Bug—It’s a Feature
Too often, organizations treat friction as a negative force that should be subdued or eliminated. The problem is that without friction there is no innovation, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.
“Companies that come through with really innovative out-of-the-box offerings are those who have not been afraid to shake things up. They don’t tolerate groupthink or Not Invented Here mentalities, Instead, they bring together diverse viewpoints—some inside the organization, some external—to get a fresh look at problems and opportunities,” she says. “The key is friction and disruption, as well as resolution, are built into the creative process. Nastiness or personal attacks are not tolerated.”
Create Non-Conformist Innovation a la Amazon
“Stop looking at conformist innovation, improving on what exists, such as Uber,” said SAC Founder Alan Weiss, PhD. “Start creating non-conformist innovation that produces totally new approaches, like Amazon.”
The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is the premier global association for independent consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide significant consulting results among their clients. Founded by Million Dollar Consulting guru Alan Weiss in 2003, SAC offers a series of in-person and online programs to help consultants share best practices and learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the business world. SAC today has members in 10 countries around the world.