Everyday Inventive and Reinventive Companies

by | Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
– Comedian Stephen Wright

Is this the way your company views innovation? Are you desperately pursuing disruptive innovation while overlooking the real problem?

You aren’t alone. According to the Wall Street Journal…

  • The word “innovation” was used 33,528 times in quarterly/annual reports last year.
  • “Innovation” was used in the titles of 255 books published in the past 90 days.
  • 43% of companies in a recent survey now say they have a “chief innovation officer.”
  • 28% of business schools use “innovation,” “innovate,” or “innovative” in mission statements.

And this morning, during his opening statement in a landmark case vs Samsung, Apple’s lead attorney declared, “we all know it’s easier to copy than to innovate.”

Ahh yes. The disease of INNOVATION has consumed the world. And there’s really only one cure. It’s time to get back to basic good business.

Everyday inventiveness and reinvention. Taking the right small steps every single day to improve your business and ensure sustainable impact. Using what you’ve got in unexpected ways….creating surprise utility. Simplification, reinvention, collaboration, change-ups, subtle pivots, leveraging underutilized resources, and incremental, continuous improvements.

Being everyday inventive and reinventive is not about creativity or the number of patents a company has; it’s about basic good business — everyday improvements, everyday progress, and great implementation. Everyday inventive and reinventive companies set vision, then evolve incrementally.

It’s amazing how many companies forget the basics.

Everyday Inventive and Reinventive Companies:

  1. Adapt, embrace change and pursue incremental, continuous improvements.
    Simplification, reinvention, change-ups, subtle pivots, improvising, initiative, and incremental continuous improvements can all drive value and long term growth. Change is a force of possibility. Adaptive companies outperform companies with non-adaptive cultures by a factor of 900 to 1 as measured by long term net income and stock price growth. Adaptive cultures thrive, even when strategy fails. Taking small steps every day can achieve big goals and sustain progress.
  2. Focus on delighting their customers (and non-customers).
    They engage with them, collaborate with them, listen to them, build their trust and lifetime loyalty. They obsessively mine knowledge about their customers — even non-customers — until they develop broad and deep insights.
  3. Make their people a priority.
    Their employees are as important (if not more important) than their customers. Great employee experiences drive great customer experiences.
  4. Promote diversity.
    Diverse teams solve problems more creatively than homogeneous teams. Gender diversity, ethnic diversity, age diversity, diversity of experiences and thoughts. Diversity delivers competitive advantage. In addition to promoting team diversity, they have knowledge of diversity issues in a global context. They think globally.
  5. Identify and leverage underutilized resources and assets.
    Using what you’ve got in unexpected ways delivers surprise utility. What hasn’t worked in the past, may very well work now.
  6. Create a culture of play and experimentation.
    They invite imagination, inspire questions, and reward/incentivize both success and failure. They encourage cross-functional collaboration, productive friction and good-spirited competition, punishing only inaction.
  7. Collaborate externally and bridge boundaries.
    Open ethos cross-industry collaboration — partnerships, alliances and coalitions — can create favorable opportunities and sustainable advantage. Successful companies don’t just reconstruct boundaries, they bridge them.
  8. Resist rigid processes and methodologies.
    They inject planning and discipline without locking into or mandating ridged processes and methodologies. By using agile/responsive approaches and flexible/adaptive frameworks, they inspire practical solution finding from the bottom ranks of the organization up.
  9. Place lots of little bets, then double down on what’s working.
    They are comfortable with uncertainty and adopt Darwinism when faced with risk. They track, monitor, and measure. They summarize progress. Then advance what adds value, discarding or tabling the rest.
  10. Refuse to fall into the trap of being reliant on a single growth strategy.
    They don’t go “all-in” on one idea. They realize that sustained growth requires a balanced portfolio of strategies and the management capabilities to implement them.

Disruptive innovation (also known as radical innovation) is great in theory. Big ideas are sexy. But there is a hidden cost to dramatic change — big changes can be disruptive and expensive in terms of talent costs, commercialization costs, and opportunity costs. While quantum leaps get more attention, the companies that adapt every day — those that pursue evolutionary or ongoing incremental improvements — are the ones that survive and thrive — the ones that beget far better products — the ones that achieve the greatest returns in terms of net income and stock price growth. It’s the little things that mean alot.

Everyday inventiveness and reinvention — doing the right thing every day — taking measured steps every single day to improve business and ensure sustainable impact — is nearly always more cost-effective and more sustainable than revolution. Evolution is better.

Ready to get started? Check out RE:INVENTION’s “How to Be Everyday Inventive and Reinventive” Twitter Tips — eighty-six (86) practical business inventiveness and reinvention tips you can put to use immediately.

Everyday inventiveness and reinvention (incremental evolution) leads to staying power — and it’s the most important part of any company’s strategy (for corporations and for startups).

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