Innovation is becoming a hot topic in the business world these days. When I think of Innovation, it’s hard not to think of start up feeling environments – creativity, millenials, design thinking, white boards and sticky notes.
It may be natural to think that only young companies Innovate, but in reality, similar to Golf and Shuffleboard, innovation is a lifetime sport. Companies that have been around the block are innovating just the same. Motorola, the 87-year-old Mobile Communications Company presented itself at a recent B2B Marketing conference as a customer-focused innovation company.
They talked about how to be disruptive at an old and successful company. One of the impressions for me was the importance of IT and Marketing working together – in conjunction with technology – to pave the way for innovation.
Also important is the central role the customer has with the innovation process. Design thinking is centered on solving customer problems. Innovation efforts go beyond product solutions to include new ways of developing dialogue with customers.
Russell Stokes, president& CEO of GE Transportation, a business nearly 100 years young, also spoke at the same conference about how the company is finding innovative ways to leverage data and analytics to drive efficiencies, while at the same time reducing emissions – good for business and the environment at the same time.
Start-ups may have an advantage with innovation only in the sense they are small organizations. As organizations grow, maintaining scale or going from big to bigger requires efficiencies, and I think sometimes too much focus on efficiency can distract from thinking out of the box and trying new things. Staying relentlessly focused on innovation is an easy cure for that.
But size should not be confused with age – as long as a company keeps an inventive spirit, innovation is a lifetime endeavor. In a fast-changing world where new technological developments shutter commercial concepts as quickly as they open new doors, innovation becomes more an imperative than ever before.
For more on innovation in today’s fast-paced business climate, see 5 Production Technologies of the Innovation Economy.