Innovating in Times of Austerity
In these times of austerity we need to focus on the innovation dimensions that matter to us. For some, this will still be all about the big breakthroughs, particularly those in the Consumer Goods industry. For everyone, we need to focus on other key areas and balance our innovation initiatives on:
- Operational & Process Efficiency
- Resource/Asset Utilization
- Network & Supply Chain Performance
- Pricing & Sales Models
- Launching New Products/Services
- Invisible Innovation
Look at the list above – what are some of your key priorities in the next 6-12 months?
Some companies see innovation as a luxury, not as an achievable driving force that permeates their culture. Innovation is a business imperative – and the companies that treat it as such have been able to weather these times of austerity. Consequently, I have observed the marketplace priorities change as companies shift their innovation efforts to more internal and invisible (at least when viewed by their competitors) initiatives.
If your competition cannot see how you did something or even have knowledge that you’ve done it, you can create significant leverage in the marketplace through greater internal operating capacity and efficiency, for example. This can be the “secret sauce” in your offering.
Imagine if you could:
- Significantly improve your cash flow year-on-year by reducing the number of day sales outstanding
- Improve your efficiencies in your supply chain over that of your competition to offer better pricing
- Halve the time to create new products and services so you can do more with less
- Respond to RFPs in a fraction of the time it would normally take
- Rapidly capture, identify and fix customer problems to meet service level agreements without needing to be on-site 24/7
Innovation is where you need it to be. Identify the critical things you need to improve upon in your business and focus your innovation initiatives there.
It may not even be called “innovation” or be seen as a process, but instead becomes part of change management initiative or business transformation. Innovation is not always about sexy breakthroughs, although they grab the headlines. It is about those elements that are most critical to your business and goals.
Take a moment and reflect. Where should you be innovating in these times of austerity?
Matt Chapman is a senior innovation solution consultant at Imaginatik, an innovation management consultancy and software company based in Boston. He has helped companies all over the world adopt innovation cultures, and is a regular speaker and writer on innovation best practice.