By: Jay Gronlund, Global Partners Principal
When money is tight, as in the current recession, there is a tendency to pull back on initiatives that don't produce an immediate return. Frequently any effort that involves some form of new business assessment or brainstorming session is the first to go. These innovation initiatives are usually viewed as too separate, specialized or nebulous to justify when budgets are reduced.
However, there are many successful business leaders with a track record of sustaining or even initiating an innovation process during a recession. Their common talent is an ability to create a balanced collaboration (e.g. creative and practical) and inspire a culture of ongoing innovation - e.g. at Apple, HP, Toyota, Nike, Starbucks or Gucci. In fact, a recent worldwide survey by Booz & Company on innovation reported that 40% of responding companies are actually "speeding up their efforts to make innovation more efficient", as a result of this downturn. What qualities and techniques have made these companies so innovative and successful? Is it people, a special approach, bigger budgets, R&D resources, or simply luck?
An examination of the most successful innovative companies that have broken the mold and introduced ground-breaking ideas reflects certain attributes in common:
Culture of Learning and Innovation
The Customer Experience Dominates
The ability to identify and nurture Creative People
Finishing - from Concept to Commercialization