Innovation is NOT Continuing to Do the Same Thing!
There is a form of mythical innovation that is frustrating progressive minds everywhere, it is called merely TALKING about innovating, while continuing to do the same thing. Within an organization, this often happens at the simplest level possible, computing. Microsoft, Oracle, and other legacy software companies, that may I add, do not even use their own products, have been making businesses miserable for years.
The latest debacle being the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Perhaps the most puzzling intersect of the whole thing, is no matter how many times legacy software, no matter how new and shiny the latest container is, has led to the imploding of many businesses at the most critical times, somehow businesses continue to think they will lose more by upgrading to something different, vs. keeping what "sort of works".
Meanwhile, many companies are marveling at the speed in which they are being disrupted, when their basic day-to-day operations are being done with antiquated technologies and methodologies. These same companies want to compete with newcomers that simply implemented Google Apps (now known as G Suite), Salesforce, Two Step Verification, and allows their employees to BYOD (bring your own device) because nearly everything important to day-to-day operations lives in the cloud.
So what does this mean for companies that are still using legacy systems? Your innovative competition can go from idea to implementation in a couple of days, they are not spending money on an IT Department, they are not "down for software updates", they don't have to invest in large buildings; co-working spaces and telecommuting have proven collaboration is KING! Imagine, if your employees can organically develop relationships every day that are golden for your company, simply by showing up to their local office at a co-working space.
Additionally, they do not have to invest in expensive software/hardware, or hire a staff to maintain it, they can go to market with little to no overhead, and they can operate more quickly and efficiently. What does this ultimately produce? A small team of 10 to 15 people that can out-perform an entire building of employees because:
A. They can go from idea to implementation in one day.
B. The C-Suite isn't cooped up in a luxury office hundreds of miles away from their worker bees, they are right there on the ground floor of the company working with their team; approachable, and accessible. Therefore, the vision and leadership of the company is never far from the employee's mind. They truly gain the sense they are helping to build the company together.
C. Innovative companies continue to keep their startup mentality even when they grow to become behemoths in their industry. A prime example of this is the company formerly known as Google, Alphabet. Every single Google product is now it's own company.
D. Because employees don't have to worry about system delays, troubleshooting issues, or waiting for IT teams and suppliers, they are free to get their work done quickly and efficiently. This has allowed for an entire culture shift in corporate. Now meeting deadlines is more important than being in a seat from 9am to 5pm, even when there is no work to be done. The culture of sit and "look busy" is ending, while the culture of let's meet all our deadlines early so we can take the rest of the day off is the more popular thought. Flexible workdays, as well as working from home, is more popular than ever. Family and work life balance have never worked so well together. This in turn has produced happy employees that gladly give more than necessary to further the bottom line of the company.
E. Free time means more time to train employees to continue to innovate with education opportunities, workshops, tech conferences, corporate training, and more. Employees can choose what they are interested in and go for it. If they want to make the leap from data scientist to developer, it is completely possible and looked at as valuable to the company. Employees no longer need to wait for a new position to open up to do something different, they simply earn pay raises and bonuses to learn new skill sets that complement their existing talent, or if they are bored, they can try something new.
The truth is, innovation starts with the basic operations in your organization. What is the purpose of discussing innovation in the C-Suite, while most of the employees are still using Windows 95. This will cause a serious case of cognitive dissonance at best within the workforce. In order to innovate you MUST have an innovative, tech and digital savvy workforce.
Kia McClain is the CMO, and disruption coach at Shenomenon Corp. Her specialty is helping companies to innovate from the ground up, providing strategy to help companies to become 21st century leaders, as well as providing corporate training to give the workforce 21st century skills. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.