by Paul Boerger, CTO and VP of Engineering, Vergent Products

With every passing year, the world gets a little smaller, competition gets smarter, and commoditization climbs higher on the value chain. Perhaps that is life’s way of reminding us that our journeys require growth to be successful in advancing our lives, families, careers, and our businesses. As Will Rogers stated, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

When cost reductions and efficiency improvements no longer sustain profitability, successful business leaders embrace the art of innovation as the quintessential ingredient for tomorrow’s success.

Whether we are innovating new business processes, methodologies, supply chains, partnerships, or product design; innovation is the key ingredient of every successful endeavor. I echo the sage words of Peter Drucker, “Innovate or Die.” 

So, what are the benefits of innovation?

Innovation has Cachet!

  • Innovative companies are distinguished with prestige–a veritable badge of honor that separates their products and services from the also-rans.
  • It improves brand. Who is not a fan of the great thought leaders of Amazon, SpaceX, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Tesla?
  • Steve Jobs stated, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” 

Innovation drives Thought Leadership

  • During planning, it forces a strategic shift to shoot ahead of the duck–trajectory focus instead of position focus. As the great Wayne Gretzky stated, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” 
  • Crystallizes the vision for business targets, lights an exciting path to success, and drives speed. 
  • It’s a thought and action catalyst for achievement

Innovation drives differentiation and creates market strongholds

  • Innovation drives disruption; disruptive technologies change the world competitive landscape on the shoulders of invention. 
  • Intellectual property (IP) is a natural artifact of innovation which enables strategic control points that yield sustainable, predictable, profitability for our businesses.
  • Segue to increased competitiveness and differentiation.

Innovation engages

  • Ensures extra value to our clients, stakeholders and engenders loyalty.
  • Stimulates employee engagement & improves morale.
  • The world loves big ideas. 
  • Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something awesome?

Successful innovation has its challenges as inferred in several great books like The Innovator’s Dilemma. The question I consistently hear, “If innovation is so wonderful, why is it so often met with opposition?” Although cliché, I have repeatedly said that innovation is like an arms race; it requires consistent investment to work well. Whether we choose to or not, it’s a necessary business competency in this global economy.

One of the many challenges of innovation is, “How do we successfully innovate as a company?” I’ve observed that every great innovation is seeded with a great problem. Our minds require good impactful questions to focus our creative energies such that we can uncover those out-of-the-box solutions. As leaders, we must be honest in identifying the most daunting problems of our businesses, feed those into our teams, provide guidance, and endorse with explicit permission to innovate. 

For over two decades, I’ve hosted and co-hosted several Design Jams that use a 3-step approach to team innovation: Ideation, Conceptualization, and Proselytization. Regardless of your processes or tools, it’s important to discover your best methods for capturing, cultivating, and harvesting innovative ideas.

In business, we look ahead to identify the highest and best use of our competencies. Ultimately, we must grow as individuals, teams and as a company. As leaders, we all aspire to guide our teams down the path of success, and I believe that the most epic journeys begin on the launchpad of innovation. Wishing you the very best in your quest!

Helpful books on innovating your business……

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
  • The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries 
  • Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work by John C. Maxwell 
  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim