At some point in the evolution of even the most successful companies, an interesting thing happens – growth stalls. Even the brightest and most experienced Entrepreneurs and managers are perplexed as the things they did to create the initial growth in the company no longer drive new revenues. In fact if they stick with old methods and ideas things go from bad to worse as revenues and profits start to fall. I call this moment of change a ‘slipping point’, and no business is immune to them.
The reason that slipping points happen is that as companies grow their needs and markets change, but due to the slow and incremental nature of these changes they are hard to recognize until things have stalled out.
The leadership skills that take a company from inception to $5 million in revenue are different than the leadership skills that are required to take a company from $5 million to $15 million. The process of creating new products and services is more complicated as a company grows than it was when an Entrepreneur was dedicating all of their time to creating the first offering. Markets change and evolve as competitors redefine meanings, launch their own new products and services, and as customers needs evolve and grow. In short, things change and companies fail to adapt.
The solution to the problem is integrating Innovation into the dialogue of your organization. Innovation changes these stall points from slipping points to growth opportunities by providing both incremental and disruptive evolution strategies which enable a company to avoid the pitfalls associated with failing to adapt to change.
By encouraging an ongoing discussion that challenges market assumptions and searches for new meanings and value propositions an organization keeps its eyes and ears open to new growth opportunities as they appear. Further, by seeking outside interpreters who can help to view your market in new ways, actively seeking to understand the needs of customers and non-customers, and constantly testing new ideas through early prototyping an organization can maximize their capacity for growth and minimize the effect of these slipping points on their evolution.
Innovation is a dialogue and language that comes from being open to new ideas and from constantly searching for new information or ideas that might change the landscape of the business or market you play in.
Finally, Innovation isn’t a project that you can implement once and forget; it is an iterative discussion that continually evolves with your business driving you forward toward the next slipping point. Recognizing the power of innovation and then acting to create an Innovative discussion within your organization is the key to avoiding the slipping points.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.