In the early 1960s President John F. Kennedy challenged the U.S. scientific community and the nation’s brightest minds to get a man on the moon in record time. Many believed the time table for that extraordinary feat was unattainable and unreasonable. It was only through embracing uncertainty and speeding up the innovation cycle, that helped the United States beat its rival and plant it’s flag on the moon first. The Apollo missions forged an environment of innovation that changed not only NASA, it sped up computer technology, engineering practices and impacted the lives of every citizen of the world. New foods, new materials, and new products were are birthed during the race into space. ‘Innovation at the Speed of Light’ got the country to a place no one thought possible.
Today, as business begins to come to terms with new operating rules and new market conditions, forced by the COVID 19 pandemic, fostering this same sense of spectacular innovation is critical to success.
As a business owners, galvanizing your team to – “get to the moon” first and come up with new products, new offers and new business innovations can feel like an impossible task as the world changes so rapidly. Most traditional thinking is that to achieve true innovation planning and an upfront construct of processes and systems is required to ultimately achieve the desired outcomes. This methodical and measured approach takes time. Time that in a fast-changing marketplace most businesses will have little of…
But forcing innovation at the ‘Speed of Light’ is risky and can be costly.
Is it worth it to narrow the time frame for innovation within your business to get ahead of your competitors?
Consider the following. What will it cost if your don’t? What is your competition doing and are they doing it faster? What is the worst that can happen if ‘speed innovation’ fails? If you are pretty confident that the risk of standing still or moving slowly is higher than adapting to challenges as your team ramps up innovation, then you have to try go it and as Nike says, “just do it”.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” says Sun Tzu in this famous book The Art of War. New research suggests if you want to foster ‘speed innovation’ within your business, you have to embrace a little chaos. It’s time to release the creative energy and challenge your team to innovate faster than they ever have. To ensure that your business stays ahead of the competition and continues to offer your customers the best products and services.
Sun Tzu also said, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Now is the time to benefit from the acceleration of change in technology and in customer trends. If your team is to be successful in establishing a ‘speed innovation’ mindset you have to set some ground rules.
- Embrace mistakes and reward risk-taking. View failure as a positive instead of a setback. Use errors to propel your path forward instead of stopping progress.
- Encourage your team to minimize adaptive coordination. That means they have to be comfortable with experimentation and sharing what they learn as they go,so that others benefit from their results and findings.
- Encourage new process flows and/or abandon traditional patterns. It may sound unnatural to leave established processes behind, but ‘speed innovation’ needs fresh and unexpected processes to guide your team to new horizons.
- Foster flexibility and give your team room to creep the scope or their initial goals. As they experiment, test and measure and find their new innovation path you may find that latching on to one purpose or expected outcome can stifle the same creativity you are trying to nurture.
- Embrace ambiguity. Don’t fight the unknown, discover it. Create an environment of iterative collaboration where each team members learns from the other organically.
The Harvard Business Review recently published an article by professors at NYU and UVA that stated, “Though it may be counter intuitive, our research shows that ad-hoc teams tasked with innovating under extreme time pressure will be more effective if they minimize upfront coordination and avoid attempting to compress established work processes to fit an accelerated time frame. It’s completely natural to seek order and stick to the familiar when things get chaotic. But sometimes, the only way to be successful is to embrace the chaos” (Assaft & Lebovitz, 2020). Thus adding time constraints and speeding up the innovation cycle can be very productive and lucrative for your business in the long-run.
Adding time pressure for innovation can be risky and costly, but the alternative will be stagnation. If your industry is innovating at the ‘speed of light’, quickly evolving to meet the new customer demands, you have to get in the mix.
Having professional guidance can make process transition easier. Many businesses today are turning to a business coach to help them chart their new course. At ActionCOACH the world’s largest and most successful business coaching franchise in the world, more than 1,000 coaches globally work with more than 18,000 businesses everyday to reach new levels of business success and profitability. Much like a professional accountant or lawyer, today more than ever small and medium sized businesses are investing in the expertise of a certified business coach to help them transform their businesses. If you would like to connect with a coach in your area, contact us at www.actioncoach.com. Sign up for a free coaching session and see what an ActionCOACH business coach can help you discover.