Innovative organizations focus upon the concept of agility: they can manage fast change, new risk, business market turmoil, staffing challenges, and market commoditization. They can do this because they are relentlessly focused on the future and the trends that will impact them.
They ensure that they innovate and adapt based on rapidly changing circumstances, on a continuous basis. Innovation isn’t just about a new product; it’s an inclusive mindset, in which everyone knows that they must stay relentlessly focused on the religion of innovation: how do we do things differently to run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.
How do they do this? By adopting several key guiding principles that form the basis for all corporate strategy and activities going forward:
- plan for short-term longevity: No one can presume that markets, products, customers, and assumptions will remain static: everything is changing instantly. Business strategies and activities must increasingly become short-term-oriented while fulfilling a long-term mission.
- presume lack of rigidity: Many organizations undertake plans based on key assumptions. Agile organizations do so by presuming that those key assumptions are going to change regularly over time, and so build into their plans a degree of ongoing flexibility.
- design for flexibility: In a world of constant change, products or services must be designed in such a way that they can be quickly redesigned without massive cost and effort. Think like Google: every product and service should be a beta, with the inherent foundation being one of flexibility for future change.
- build with extensibility: Apple understood the potential for rapid change by building into the iPod architecture the fundamental capability for other companies to develop add-on products. Think the same way: tap into the world. Let the customer, supplier, partners, and others innovate on your behalf!
- harness external creativity: In a world in which knowledge is evolving at a furious pace, no one organization can do everything. Recognize your limits, and tap into the skills, insight, and capabilities of those who can do things better.
- plan for supportability: Customers today measure you by a bar that is raised extremely high — they expect you to deliver the same degree of high quality that they get from the best companies on the planet. They expect instant support, rapid service, and constant innovation. If you don’t provide this, they’ll simply move on to an alternative.
- revisit with regularity: Banish complacency. Focus on change. Continually revisit your plans, assumptions, models, and strategies, because the world next week is going to be different than that of today.