Is Innovation Thwarting your Business?

Many companies today want to get on the technological fast train. They love to change systems simply for the joy of having the newest best thing! They falsely believe that to be competitive they need to be different, innovative, or ahead of everyone else. The problem is when companies move too fast, their creativity may cause them to lose sight of the company’s vision and mission. By moving too fast they may fail to create the buy-in necessary to embrace change. They make it difficult for their customers to understand time-saving value and actually enjoy the new product or service.

Remember, change requires people to operate outside their normal habits. Most people don’t like to be forced to do that!

First, listen to the customer. The old adage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!” may no longer be appropriate. However, if it normally works most of the time, simply make small adjustments to simplify, save time and allow others to work smarter. Communication is the key. Anything new needs to be easily and quickly understood. Be sure that you include your customers in a structured brainstorming process when creating any new product or service, or overhauling your systems.  Failure to do so may have customers talking with your competitors.

Second, keep it simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, people who design systems may not have a comprehensive business perspective or direct interaction with the customer. Innovation costs money. Ineffective innovation may result in losing customers. Create the blueprint. Run it by the people who actually will use it. Calculate a Return-on-Investment prior to launching an initiative. It is good business to run a parallel system while piloting the new – just in case.

Last, but never least! Training is the cornerstone for success. Start with your internal users and others within the company. Be sure they understand the reason and benefits for the change. Help your sales and customer advocates understand how to communicate the changes in a positive and easy to understand manner. Everyone will have a conceptual opinion about whether something should work or not, particularly if they are hearing about it for the first time. Before following those suggestions and making any changes, require people to use it. If you’ve included them in the planning for execution and implementation, you’re less likely to get any pushback until real issues arise.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

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