- On April 10, 2018
There are rules for success. It may seem like a generalization, but all of the innovative and sustainable companies happen to be run by leaders who have a common mindset.
Although each innovation project has its challenges, entrepreneurs and innovators should follow at least these eight rules to achieve their goals in a highly-competitive environment where the consumers are becoming more and more demanding.
- Embrace and encourage diversity – you’ll need variety-rich human resources
A bunch of different highly-qualified brains is what you need to create efficient, cross-functional teams. This involves variety concerning skillsets, educational backgrounds, work history, and even cultural baggage.
Ask your staff of communications to generate a validated strategy to create and nurture a corporate culture that’s focused on common goals to bring the people together. This strategy must take into account that the new team members need to stay motivated to work with very different individuals and learn from each other.
In most cases, truly innovative products are the results of a great combination of varied fields of expertise.
The concept of Penicillin, the first antibiotic to be used in medicine, was discovered by a biologist called Alexander Fleming in 1928. But it wasn’t helpful to save any lives until 15 years later when the chemists Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain managed to synthesize the drug so it could be brought to market. Furthermore, other experts in fermentation and manufacturing helped to turn Penicillin into a potent drug that then started to cure thousands of life-threatening infections.
The discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick included findings in chemistry, biology, and x-ray diffraction. And the knowledge of the economist Thomas Malthus combined with the educated ideas of the geologist Charles Lyell contributed with Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate the differences and the great things they can bring to your project!
- Delegate – don’t kill your innovative solution before it’s born by keeping all the hard work for yourself
Trusting your team with essential tasks is one of the risks worth taking on this journey. Seize the opportunities your diverse human resources can offer you by delegating the work according to their unique skills and capabilities.
Even if you’re a well-trained, highly-educated professional, there must be some things you’re not good at doing. Find the people who can beautifully excel at those tasks and let them add value to your project.
Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to accept how important it is to delegate and to take action. Delegation not only helps save time and energy for the long journey, but it also allows you to focus on the areas of your business that you know.
- Create a culture of collaboration
Your diverse team will only achieve internal cohesion if they are encouraged to collaborate with each other. There shouldn’t be firm boundaries between departments, hierarchies and job titles. Everyone should feel free to communicate their fresh perspectives regardless of their role in the team in charge of a given task.
Multiple scenarios are needed to innovate, particularly at times of crisis when the external threats are abundant. This rule requires transparency and a readiness to learn every day from each challenge.
But collaboration should go beyond the internal teams that make things happen. Hackers who began altering the capabilities of the Xbox’s Kinect were welcomed to collaborate with the improvement of the consumer device although they were creating things that Microsoft didn’t intend. The company almost immediately released a software development kit to ease the task of “hacking” their technology.
This is called open innovation, and it has an infinite reach. Modern consumers, who have access to countless platforms and ecosystems, must be listened to more than ever before.
Another way to promote collaboration is by identifying potential partners who can significantly help increase the value of your innovative solutions. The journal Nature recently released a study that reveals the evolution of collaboration in the scientific paper from 1950. Modern issues have about four times as many authors.
“In most fields outside mathematics, fewer and fewer people know enough to work and write alone. If they could, and could spare the time and effort to do so, their funding agencies and home institutions would not permit it,” the paper reads.
Today’s papers can list more than 100 named authors, according to the study led by Mott Grene.
Just think about the impact you can generate in your society or field of expertise by strategically joining forces with renowned companies and organizations who have goals similar to yours.
- Always be ready to improve the work that has been done – innovation never ends
It is all about countless iterations, validation experiments, and continuous improvement. Even when the product has been successfully launched to market, it should still be tested at your headquarters according to the emerging consumer needs. In other words, never lose the sense of alert during the initial victory.
As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, consumers are more and more demanding, and their expectations never stop growing. If your company fails to meet their new pains and lacks, they won’t be faithful to your brand because your competitors will be quick to develop something better.
Keep in mind that times have changed and everything evolves incredibly fast, meaning that your business should not be the exception.
Lessons. You’ll know you’re doing well if you and your team are always learning them. Some of them will be fun; others will be frustrating. But ALL of them will lead you to better solutions. Many of the experiments you’ll carry out will “fail,” but that’s the only way you’ll be able to discover amazing ways to satisfy the customer needs.
- Be open to using platforms that will give you access to the right ecosystems
Study the market you want to take part in and identify the platforms that will help you reach the talent, the technology, and the data your project needs to become a viable, sustainable business.
There are many reliable platforms to find brilliant, experienced freelancers who can help you achieve your initial goals at times when you aren’t able to find or afford local talent with the profile required by your project.
Imagine hiring Italy’s best web designer or Mexico’s best copywriter, right from your office. Regardless of their location or time zone, the digital age makes it possible to hire remote workers who may even bring more value than local talents.
There’s the case of Apple’s App Store. Not only do their customers access functionality on their mobile devices, but the company also uses the platform to take advantage of the talents of millions of developers across the world who are waiting for new opportunities to contribute with innovative solutions. That kind of scale was unimaginable decades ago.
- Detect opportunities where everyone else sees a crisis
As opposed to many big companies, entrepreneurs can afford taking risks during market crises. Because they don’t face the same level of threats as the large enterprises, entrepreneurs have more time and energy to search for opportunities hidden in the darkest times.
Their focus should be on building their business and improving their strategies while identifying the right chances to grow and scale.
The history of the Bank of America started immediately after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake when Amadeo P. Giannini began to make loans to people despite the uncertainty that reigned at the time. He had founded the Bank of Italy, which targeted immigrants in need of banking services. After some mergers, the company’s name was changed and later became the second largest bank in the U.S. by assets.
An innovative project that has been validated with an effective methodology will find opportunities to attract new customers in need of its unique solution even in bad economic times, which are not eternal.
- Nurture creativity
Creativity is not a natural talent reserved for a few lucky individuals, but a learned ability that must be tested over and over again so it can be improved and help to achieve brilliant results.
As Daniel Burrus puts it in an article published in the Huffington Post:
“Creativity is a function of knowledge, curiosity, imagination, and evaluation. The greater your knowledge base and level of curiosity, the more ideas, patterns, and combinations you can achieve, which then correlates to creating new and innovative products and services”, he writes.
He continues to explain that it is all about a process instead of an ephemeral flash of insight. It consists of iterating the combined pieces of information, which will then be evaluated and the innovators must develop them until they become useful solutions to existing problems.
As an innovator, make sure to test your creativity and promote it across your teams. Find new ways to encourage your human resources to come up with solutions to all kinds of problems, needs, and pains. The more motivated they feel, the more satisfaction you’ll bring to your customers.
Remember those genuinely creative ideas are the ones that can be transformed into viable actions by making use of the available resources.
- Allow yourself to fail – share that right with your employees
Failure shouldn’t bring shame to an innovation project because it is a natural outcome of every experiment. Yes, entrepreneurship is a continuous experiment in which failure generates lessons that will then lead to increased customer satisfaction.
Allow yourself to make mistakes and let your team make mistakes too. Consider the “wasted” resources as an investment that will help you generate better and better products and services.
Nevertheless, note that the right to fail ends when the wrong attitude takes over your business, and you start giving up. The luxury of failure will only help you achieve your commercial objectives if you transform it into a step towards success.
Prepare your staffers for undesired outcomes as well as you prepare them to handle an improved revenue, increased profit margin, and a growing market share.
Do you accept the challenge?
Following these eight rules will increase your odds of success and help you shape your mind for a highly-competitive modern market. In case you need further advice, our Innovation Hackers are ready to assist you. Feel free to contact us!