As the lifespans of organisations get shorter, it’s more important than ever to understand how organisations can avoid the black hole of bankruptcy and economic irrelevance.
What’s Wrong with the Modern Company?
The first is the short-term mindset and the second is an inability to discover what to create before taking something to market.
On short-termism, most organisations opt for conservative projects they (falsely) believe will yield predictable results to meet their quarterly KPIs. This means companies avoid taking risks, betting on new innovations and continue to do what they’ve always done, regardless of whether that approach still works.
On discovery, large organisations have finely tuned their systems for execution of existing business models and delivering existing products to market, but don’t have a process for what to create next. Let’s look at some of the symptoms arising from this.
Signs Your Company Is Living in the Past
What do Companies of the Future Look Like?
In his latest book, The Startup Way, Eric Ries, founder of the global lean startup movement, argues that companies that last into the future will do so by having the capacity to produce products with great reliability and quality, while being able to discover what new products to produce.
Truly modern companies will:
Start Futureproofing Today
Companies serious about their future are in it for the long haul. Culture change, embedding an innovative mindset and introducing new processes don’t happen overnight, but here are some things you can get the ball rolling on now:
Introduce employees to innovative methodologies such as Lean Startup and Design Thinking. Getting your team familiar with the idea of experimentation and showing them how it’s done will help them to embrace innovation, empower them with practical tools and ensure they prioritise customers.
2. Show them how it’s done.
Commit time dedicated to rapid prototyping, to demonstrate how quickly new ideas can be built and tested. Giving employees the opportunity to design, test and iterate new concepts is terrific for building confidence and shifting mindsets, while not blowing your budget.
3. Get your hands dirty.
Kickstart the process of continuous innovation in your organisation, by showing employees how they can move like a startup. Running initiatives such as a hackathon provides team with an introduction to innovative methodologies and the opportunity to immediately applying the theory to real world problems. Here are some case studies of how Asahi and Australian Unity generated new insights about what customers wanted and moved the needle on innovation, through hackathons.
4. Go deep.
The best approach to kicking off your organisation’s innovation journey, is by honestly reflecting on what’s working and what’s not. Many organisations run headlong into activity without strategy. Prioritise your innovation initiatives by reviewing the systems, values, processes and resources that are inhibiting and enabling corporate innovation. Quantify where the organisation sits in terms of innovation maturity and creating a roadmap to the future.
5. Be deliberate about building innovation.
Although there is no silver bullet, there are some key ingredients in the recipe for building an innovative company. This requires managing the company’s processes, values and resources, towards enabling innovation. In this case, processes refer to how assets in the organisation are created, including patterns of interaction, coordination, communication, and decision-making through which resources are transformed into products and services of greater worth.
Values pertain to the company’s culture and how decisions are made, including existing attitudes about risk, failure, incentives and accountability. Resources encompass an organisation’s assets, both tangible and intangible, that contribute to what an organisation can accomplish. This includes people, technology, intellectual property, finances, customers and more. Without alignment of processes, values and resources, innovation is unlikely to flourish.
Need help getting started on your innovation journey? Or maybe you’ve been running innovation initiatives without seeing much change? We always love to hear from fellow innovators so give us a bell on (03) 9020-2010 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to chat!
The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.