DTG Co-Founder and CEO, Steve Shaheen, Shares Thoughts on Innovation With Forbes Magazine
I recently wrote an article for Forbes, as a member of the Forbes Business Development Council, addressing innovation: what it really is and how businesses can put it into action. Yet, quite simply, the key to innovation is understanding the problem.
As I shared, for every business challenge or pain point that exists, there’s an innovative solution that can save the day, but it’s important to know how to look for it. Innovation begins with the people who have boots on the ground, sales teams or business leaders closest to the customers and prospects. They’re the ones gathering customer insights and data and learning of user frustrations firsthand. They’re also the ones incentivized to ensure their company’s solutions keep customers happy and successful.
Today, many companies have Chief Innovation Officers (not to be confused with Chief Information Officers), or large departments dedicated to innovation. In fact, an Accenture survey found that “84% of executives considered their future success to be very or extremely dependent on innovation.” This is nothing new. Corning Inc. embraced innovation when it first developed Pyrex back in 1915. And, during the 1960s – 1990s, innovation was being driven by corporate R&D departments in companies such as Bell Labs, Xerox, HP and IBM.
Keys to True Innovation
A recent Deloitte survey found that, “on average, only half of all innovation efforts are achieving their desired value targets.” Given the increasing role companies are placing on “innovation,” this is an alarming finding. I believe that for an organization to be successful in the long term, innovation is critical, yet the term can be overused. The true conduit to innovation is understanding the pain points and letting them lead the way to finding new solutions.
Below are some of the ways companies can best lead with innovation:
Build an innovation culture
It’s not enough to assign a Chief Innovation Officer. A company committed to innovation must begin in the C-suite and carry the spirit of innovation throughout the organization.
Form strategic partnerships
You don’t have to always be the one doing the innovating. Perhaps a channel partner or supplier would be willing to work with you to address mutual customers’ pain points.
Take the pulse of customers
Sometimes paint points are not obvious until you ask, and customers can become the best source of new product innovation.
Be willing to take a risk
No good innovation comes about without some level of risk.
The bottom line is that there’s pain everywhere, and it’s the driver to innovation. You just need to know how to look for it, what to do about it, and how to turn it into action.
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