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If everything is working perfectly....its a problem

Theoretically, processes may be optimised … awesome. Customers may be blown away by great service…. brilliant! There may be a philosophy of continuous improvement…. amazing….

If you think everything’s working perfectly, it’s a problem. I have seen several situations where companies are not interested in innovating because everything works perfectly.

Fantastic! I am pleased for those businesses, but at the same time, I am sad because they could be even better. Innovation may be one of the companies’ values….. incredible….but is it more than word service and being intentionally applied every day, everywhere?

Has the company slipped into a comfort zone? Does it lack a sense of urgency? Is the thinking that of it works so why change it? Disruption is a fact of life, there is always someone with fresh eyes who may see an opportunity that is being missed.

Relationships aren’t impregnable and, regardless of how well-trained or committed they are, front-line staff may not be either. This is more so in these days of outsourcing and using 3rd party suppliers for last-mile delivery or some other purpose. Are management as familiar with day-to-day operations as those at the coal face and are they eliciting?
Is innovation being continuously front of mind for everyone in the company.

Is the company providing the resources to ensure the continual search for those improvements and opportunities and are there means of recording and processes to ensure suggestions go where they are meant to? Is the capacity of team leaders conducive to ensuring ideas filter through?

Perceptions are key. What do employees perceive? What counts as innovation? Will their contribution be valued and is everyone aligned and heading in the same direction?
Competitive advantage may not be sustainable in the long term. Even registered IP (intellectual property) expires at some point.  For whatever reasons, be they technological advancement or another, an important client or multitude of smaller clients may change suppliers…what are the consequences?

Although it may seem disingenuous, and without being a doomsayer, no one should rest on their laurels, no matter how invincible they seem. Think of a million other examples of companies that did… and somehow paid the price.

I can go on and on and I often say that even a fish and chip shop can innovate … innovation is everywhere!

Grant Leibbrandt is an innovation advocate who has worked with companies ranging from SME’s to multinationals internationally. Starting with collaborative workshops 15 years ago, his perception of innovation has broadened massively to include all facets of business. He believes in a process of leadership training, ongoing benchmarking, coaching and collaboration as the route to creating sustainable innovation.
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