Written by: Pamela S. Harper and D. Scott Harper
The strongest companies are the ones that are constantly striving to improve their agility and innovation leadership. But even the best businesses could use a little kick-start to their thinking sometimes. Here are ten points to energize your competitive stance, provide some food for thought, and create a starting point to address challenges and opportunities that may arise:
1. Don’t wait for the "right” timeto transform. As the business environment continuously evolves, your organization needs to be in a state of constant transformation as well in order to keep pace and respond to new opportunities. Now is the time to begin identifying and addressing the innovation leadership, management, and organizational issues that enable your company to stay agile and innovative.
2. Focus on top priorities.Trying to do too much too fast can actually slow things down. Focus your organization on the top three priorities that best serve your company’s vision and mission.
3. Build a portfolio of productive external relationships.For maximum benefits, CEO and senior executive expectations for both parties need to be transparent before committing to the relationship, and at all stages thereafter.
4. Increase agility by considering multiple options before committing to a course of action. While sometimes the most obvious choice is the best answer, other times “Plan B” or even “Plan C” might be more effective under the circumstances.
5. Establish clear metrics for successthat are easy for everyone involved to understand and refer to on a daily basis. Involving others in setting these metrics will often increase the relevance and value of the metrics as well as increase the level of stakeholder commitment.
6. Uncover assumptions about problems and opportunities before taking action.Remember, there’s always more to the story. Ask questions such as “What else could be causing the problem?” and “What are the downsides of this opportunity?” Support your answers by also asking, “What evidence supports our conclusions?” The small amount of time spent digging deeper can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your response.
7. Regularly update your company’s risk management plans.Succession plans, continuity plans, etc., can rapidly become outdated as internal and external business conditions change. Commit to regularly reviewing and updating your company's contingency plans and to periodically assessing small as well as large scale changes in the environment that could signal a need to shift direction.
8. Use training wisely. In order to reinforce the use of new knowledge and skills back at work, determine if responses in addition to training may be needed. Areas could include addressing staffing, resources, policies, and other elements of culture that impact behavior and performance.
9. Increase transparency of communication. The more that others can readily observe the connection between words and actions, the more credible you will become, which leads to greater trust and productivity.
10.Maintain a “keep adjusting” mindset.As the Greek philosopher Diogenes said thousands of years ago, “Nothing is permanent except change.” Creating an environment for your company that encourages constant inquiry and expansive thinking will greatly increase your organization's ability to actually adapt to new realities and keep moving forward, regardless of the business environment’s twists and turns.
To summarize, we recommend reading through this list and putting a star next to the tips that could potentially have the biggest impact on taking you and your company to its next level of success. Revisit this list on a quarterly basis to assess progress. Make adjustments as necessary.
Pamela S. Harperis an internationally known business performance expert, author, and professional speaker. She is the founding partner and CEO of Business Advancement Inc. (BAI), based in Glen Rock, NJ. Since 1991, BAI has enabled companies to accelerate their progress toward growth and profitability.
D. Scott Harperis an internationally recognized innovation expert with a unique ability to blend technical and business insights to achieve outstanding business results. Scott has extensive experience in moving products to market from concept generation through development and release, and has a facility for working effectively with both technical- and business-focused individuals and groups.