The majority of companies understand the importance of innovation, but it continues to be challenging for company leaders to effectively promote it within their organization. Innovation can be difficult because it requires thinking differently with a unique, fresh perspective and discipline. It requires knowledge and understanding of a process with tools and methods. Innovation has been seen to enhance growth, performance, and valuation; yet most companies, in our opinion, continue to be overly focused on operational excellence.
Many of our customers have shared their views on the barriers to innovation. Some claim the barrier is company culture – no one willing to take a risk, lack of speed to convert on an innovative idea, and lack of visioning. Others have shared that the obstacles to innovation are due to limited resources or capabilities available. They have the ability to generate new ideas but most of those fresh ideas are not implemented into new products or services. Additionally, new technology can be a challenge due to the risk that can be associated, and the misalignment that technology can have with the business itself.
Given these barriers and challenges, the result often has companies simply focusing on operational excellence alone. Operational excellence refers to achieving high performance through existing forms of operation. It focuses on reducing costs, errors, and delays without fundamentally transforming the way work gets accomplished. Operational excellence involves designing for efficiency and for short term success. This is substantially different to innovation excellence, which is focused on creating new ideas, concepts, solutions, or experiences.
At Twisthink, we believe that innovation success can be accomplished through the application of human-centered design HCD) and technology. The first piece to this puzzle in HCD, otherwise known to some as design-thinking. A study done by the Design Management Institute (DMI) proved that companies that employ design-thinking have maintained a significant market advantage, outperforming the S&P by 211%. These companies; like Apple, Ford, Herman Miller Whirlpool, Steelcase, and others, are leveraging a different way of problem solving by keeping the user at the center when developing new solutions. By leveraging this approach, companies can be confident they are creating a solution that brings value to all stakeholders; and in turn, brings overall value to the company itself. After the appropriate solution has been identified, it can be brought to life with technology. The technological development will be much easier now that you have the research supporting the user desirability of your product solution.
Authors of “The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation” A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan once said, “The company that builds a culture of innovation is on the path to growth. The company that fails to innovate is on the road to obsolescence.” We have seen the effects of companies that are not doing any serious kind of innovation, and it is often a lack of growth. One of our clients, Milliken & Co., understands that although operational excellence can secure the present, innovation excellence is what secures the future. This quote from Roger Milliken is one that our team often refers back to in customer meetings and meetings of our own:
“Operational excellence secures the present, innovation excellence secures the future”
-Roger Milliken, Former Chairman and CEO, Milliken & Company
Along with Milliken, we have seen accelerated growth as a result of strategic innovation processes and the application of technology paired with design thinking. To learn more about the power of human-centered design, check out our recent blog here. If you are interested in learning about the HCD process that we use here at Twisthink, go to our website here.