Attempting to seize new opportunities and improve competitive positions, business leaders are looking for innovative solutions. In fact, research shows that innovation will be essential to both short-tem opportunistic value capture and longer-term business sustainability. In previous posts, our sustainability consulting practice has explored the ‘who’ question: From where should these new ideas and innovative solutions originate? The text below takes the conversation one step forward: How do we manage the innovation process to bring these creative sources to light?
In a Harvard Business Review post, Don't Let What You Know Limit What You Imagine, we explore the topic of ‘facilitated’ creativity. Despite expertise and decades of experience, present day leaders don’t seem to developing creative solutions to dire problems facing business sustainability today. As one expert explains:
"Many organizations struggle with a ‘paradox of expertise’ in which deep knowledge of what exists in a marketplace or a product category makes it harder to consider what-if strategies that challenge long-held assumptions. The same hard-won experience, best practice, and processes that are the cornerstones of an organization's success may be more like millstones that threaten to sink it." -Cynthia Barton Rabe, a former innovation strategist at Intel
Innovative ideas do not have to come from one single source. They can generate from within the company at the ground level, from the customers, or your suppliers. Often employees have the information and ideas to make a significant but are limited by the structures of the organization. One key to innovation is to create a business sustainability culture that encourages and rewards diverse ideas at all levels internal to the organization as well as external to the company.