It used to be that in traditional business settings, innovation was a byproduct of change. These days, however, the equation is inverted and now innovation drives change.
What this means is that there has been a paradigm shift in how organizations need to approach — and view — those two dynamics. Leaders can no longer wait for something to change, such as the business climate, supply and demand factors or market pressures, before they take steps to invest in innovation. And, by embracing this shift, it will result in a quicker ability to effectively compete.
But there’s another byproduct of this new paradigm — while it is possible to use proactive innovation as a tool to gain a temporary competitive advantage, it is no longer a given, and it is often short-lived.
Speed is the main culprit.
Just as with other things today, the speed at which things change is scary. And even though organizations that embrace change and proactively develop ecosystems that foster it will benefit from being innovative, what would previously be a seemingly insurmountable competitive advantage gap is closing fast. Entrepreneurs, business leaders and forward thinkers are suddenly finding that just as quickly as they’re able to innovate and put change into motion, the competition is doing the same.
Worse, under this new reality those people who traditionally resisted change and are unable to adapt now face serious challenges — more daunting than they faced before. Rather than be forced to adapt and change because they can no longer compete, that option won’t be available because time will be their enemy.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the key traits of innovative organizations is the ability to ask “What If?” In fact, it’s the most important trait, from which all other traits trail from. By asking “What if” first, organizations are able to embed curiosity into their culture.
By combining curiosity with necessity, innovation will have a better chance to flourish. Rather than innovating because you have to, the paradigm shifts once more to innovation because you want to.
When you’re able to do things you want to do, it becomes a powerful mechanism to help your company get ahead. And when you’re in a position to get ahead, the better your odds of winning.
Dustin Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business Network Inc.