Innovate to survive

As any Business Analyst will tell you, “change” is essential for just about any business to survive. Organisations need to be constantly innovating, ensuring that they are delivering the precise goods and services that their customers want, need, demand and desire.

The trouble is, change can be scary. It can threaten norms and values that are long established within an organisation. It can cross boundaries, threaten empires and even threaten “the way things are done round here”.   A CEO who decides to ditch his/her primary product line is very brave indeed!*

(* But did you know Nokia used to make paper, rubber and cables before they branched into consumer electronics?[1])

Many authors have produced models of the ‘change lifecycle’.  Whichever model you follow, innovation is likely to involve four broad phases:

1. Identifying the need for change (Seeing the problem/opportunity)

2. Analysing the options, making a decision and planning the change (Innovating)

3. Implementing the change (Doing it)

4. Sustaining the change (Making it stick)

Some companies never even get to step 1.  They flounder with existing products or services and never quite reach their true potential.  Eventually, they’ll probably cease trading.  You can probably name a few.

Some companies get stuck on step 1 or 2, or spend so long on step 2 that their innovation is largely irrelevant by the time it is delivered.  Truly successful companies need to cover all four, and need to be constantly responding to opportunities and changes  in their environment, in a timeframe that puts them ahead of their competitors.

All of this requires sound Business Analysis, fit-for purpose Feasibility work and pragmatic Project Management.  However, for this to work at all the organisation must support and encourage change from the top down.    Everyone should be empowered to look for (and suggest) the ‘next big idea’ – even if this idea might not be ‘palatable’ to those in charge!

Does your organisation encourage innovation? What would need to change for innovation to be even stronger?


[1] See http://www.nokia.com/about-nokia/company/story-of-nokia/nokias-first-century

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