We're not an 'innovating' company.

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Yeah... So a few years ago, I was sitting in this Senior VP's office (She was responsible for about $56M in annual sales), and we were discussing the fact that her company's sales were kind of flat. Inventories were growing. Margins were eroding. She blamed "those damned Chinese imports" and price cuts she couldn't keep up with for her company's stagnant sales. When I started talking to her about product innovation, she made a face and said something along the lines of "We're not an innovating company. It's just not what we do."


She also wasn't too keen on the value of brands - unless of course you happened to be talking about Prada or Chanel... which always kind of puzzled me: She understood and appreciated the power of brands... but couldn't see the value of the one she was being paid to strengthen.

Two years after that meeting, when the company's competitors - including many of the damned Chinese imports - started coming out with cool, smart, appealing designs, she was overheard exclaiming "hey, why couldn't we come up with that?"

Cute. Marie Antoinette contemplating brioches as the mob approached the palace gates.

Please don't be this lady. And don't be that kind of company either. There's just no reason for it.

The good news: Innovation isn't necessarily expensive. The bad news: If you don't get with the program fast, your days are numbered.

"To create innovate products, we have to secure insights not only into the products and but also into their business opportunities by having an observant and empathetic view of the world... Only T-shaped people, who have well rounded personalities and broad interests, can obtain such viewpoints. Sophisticated engineers who do not understand the market and customers will never devise items, which have a shot at becoming a grand slam...

"In Korea, just engineers are responsible for creating products. They can make good products, which sell pretty well. But that is not enough at all. We need trend-defining merchandise that makes our competitors invalid, just as iPod or RAZR did. Towards these ends, we need more T-shaped people than narrow-sighted engineers. Local firms have to change their recruitment policy." -- Tom Kelley -

"Any U.S. technology company hoping to remain competitive with global rivals and exploit new market opportunities -- whether it is Internet search or China (or both!) -- must make a commitment to hiring, developing and rewarding top-level R&D talent. The lesson is clear: technology companies must first win the battle for R&D talent before they can win the battle for market share. The cliché that "the company's most valuable assets walk out the door each night" has never been truer. Time and time again, companies with the best R&D talent win the battle for market dominance." -- Dominic Basulto -

Australian business magazine BRW has released its list of the Fast 100 - top Australian companies that are innovating their way to success. After pointing out that "problem-solving and constant curiosity are at the heart of innovation for fast-growing companies," BRW goes behind the scenes at 100 up-and-coming Australian companies that have made innovation a key component of their future growth plans. At the end of the article, BRW provides a handy innovation scorecard:
75% Of BRW Fast 100 companies say they have developed a unique product or service

20% Say revenue growth this year will come from new products and services

78% Personally champion innovation

75% Search the world for new ideas

93% Encourage employees to be creative and innovative

72% Are satisfied with the financial return on their investment in innovation


Fact: "Most executives underestimate their company’s resistance to change. That’s a big reason why half of all new initiatives fail… managers don’t start with a plan to get enough buy-in." -- Laurence Haughton -

Okay... so now that we're all on the same wavelength...

On January 30 at 12:00pm ET, bestselling author Laurence Haughton will be leading a free online workshop called "More Buy-In for New Ideas and Innovations." During the presentation, Laurence will help business leaders arrive at a strategy to overcome resistance to change and improve follow-through rates within the organization. Registration is free (and relatively painless) by clicking here.

Thanks to Dominic Basulto over at The Business Innovation Insider for the heads-up.

Have a great Monday, everyone.

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