The following column is from R.J. Reynolds, president/CEO of Mek client Radius Indiana. It appeared in the OP-ED section of the Indianapolis Star on August 28.
with economic uncertainty, budget constraints and a set of new fiscal
parameters sometimes called “The New Normal,” many executives and leaders have
called on companies and regions to embrace innovation. Innovation, of course,
represents a disruptive course of action, where new elements replace old ones.
term, innovation, rightly portrays a forward-looking vision, which
unfortunately leads some to simply adopt the label of “innovation” while
maintaining operations that are otherwise quite ordinary. In fact, given that
the term “innovation” is definitely on a major upswing in usage, earlier this
year The Wall Street Journal
nominated “innovation” to be officially recognized as the most overused phrase
without indulging in label hyperbole, how can Indiana—particularly regions in
southern Indiana—begin to embrace true innovation and ultimately build a new
culture of innovation that leads to higher productivity, technology advancement
and a boost in per capita income?
innovation obviously begins with a willingness to change or embrace change.
That means getting out of one’s comfort zone a bit. Change can produce new
conflict, which if kept to a manageable level, is not a bad thing.
next? Consider the quality of education in our workforce and resources
available to institute and embrace change. Hoosiers can have great ideas, but
to commercialize those ideas and bring them into the marketplace, they need a
support structure in the form of mentoring, guidance and funding.
these resources were in short supply. Today, the Indiana Small Business
Development Center (SBDC) has offices across the state. Both start-ups and existing small businesses
can tap into SBDC resources to quickly advance their little enterprise. Where
once outside funding was virtually non-existent except through friends and
family, today several angel investors within a number of different angel networks
can provide critical seed or advanced capital to build a company.
great ideas are killed by fear of failure.
Entrepreneurs and those embracing true innovation must be fearless and
willing to take intelligent risks. The
success rate for true innovation in products is often low – one source noted
how a new product often faces odds of 100 to 1 to become successful. But
failure, if it is harnessed as a learning opportunity, leads to success as
evidenced by such legends as Thomas Edison. Edison failed thousands of times in
producing the first light bulb, phonograph, commercial electricity and many
other products and services. If he had simply given up the first time he
experienced a setback or failure, our quality of life would likely be
substantially different today.
innovation must be rewarded. If you’re in an existing company, consider how you
can value and reward employees for embracing and producing innovation in your
products or services. In a company that
has truly embraced and is developing a culture of innovation, not every outcome
will be perfect or without trauma.
down those silos – a culture of innovation is collaborative and team-building.
When people learn how to pool together their intellectual, behavioral and experiential
resources in a positive environment that promotes risk-taking, great things can
a true Culture of Innovation goes far beyond mere labeling. Valuing people,
promoting risk-taking, embracing continuous improvement and partnership with
change represent critical elements for achieving real innovation, whether in
manufacturing, services or product development and delivery. Americans and
Hoosiers already have a legacy of innovation in us—let’s work to reignite that
capacity and advance our state.
Labels: change, change management, culture, disruption, ideas, innovation, partnership, positioning