Innovation needs a base to stand on

Take five seconds and name companies in your industry that you admire for their innovation. How many names came quickly to mind? My guess is few, if any.

Nowadays, it seems that every business leader recognizes innovation as a top priority, and as one of the few viable paths to sustainable growth. Why is it then that so few organizations seem to do it well? Often times, it’s just that innovation doesn’t have a base to stand on.

Our work has revealed that many times even straightforward growth ideas, the low hanging fruit of innovation, don’t take off. Expand into a new geography, go into this new market segment, develop a high-end version of your product… Some of these simple ideas may be viable growth ‘innovations’, but all too often the organizations behind them can’t get out of their own way to make them happen.

Ask yourself the following questions: How much of your week is spent ‘putting off fires’? After you fix problems, do they keep coming back? Do things get out of control often? Do you feel the organization is stretched to the limit?

If you don’t like some of your answers, be aware that adding innovations won’t fix them. Furthermore, innovations and growth initiatives will look like distractions that only deteriorate the situation. More likely than not, you will conclude that the growth initiative has failed and shut it down. In reality, the initiative was doomed to fail because it lacked a healthy operating platform to stand on, to be nurtured and tweaked until it perfected the formula.

How do you fix this? What you need is an effective operating system to run your company on. In the same way a computer operating system orchestrates a lot of complexity – millions of lines of code, memory, processors, etc. – there are operating systems that will help you smoothly orchestrate your business functions. For midsize organizations, a great example is the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®).

I used to think that organizations failed at innovation solely because they went about it the wrong way, or plainly without a method. Indeed, “Think outside the box!” is frustrating advice without a how-to guide. There is truth in this – Zermatt Dusk was born out of this opportunity. But for innovation to succeed, you also need a strong operating platform to stand on.

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