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Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

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Driving Innovation through Insight, Collaboration and Agility

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Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves


So spoke Shakespeare’s Cassius of Julius Caesar but these words can equally apply to any who stand out from their chosen fields. We can probably name them, world-renowned individuals such as Richard Branson, businesses like Zappos, or even the man down our street who always has a kind word for everyone. We all have the potential to be great but some have that something special, which turns them into world-bestriding innovation leaders whilst the rest of us can only follow in their shadow.

But what has this to do with business and with training? Surely, in business we deal with cold hard facts and cash and the movement of goods? As the Monty Python (The Audit) sketch goes “there’s no place for sentiment in big business.” Well not anymore! The businesses which will stride the world of the future like a Colossus will be those that embrace three core things, Insight, Collaboration and Agility in order to create game changing innovation cultures and become what I call ‘Next Generation Organisations’.  

For this change to be successful not only do processes and procedures have to be changed, mindsets have to alter as well. Isolationist, my job only, silos have to give way to creativity, collaboration and teamwork. Being chained to your desk with your head down to the task needs to be replaced with creating the space for interaction. The ‘water cooler’ moment may be a cliché but it has a vital role to play in drawing together employees from varied disciplines in a shared drive to create solutions and exceptional, innovative customer experiences.

Transforming an organisational culture into one of openness and innovation won’t happen overnight. And it certainly won’t come about unless considerable thought is put into designing the new culture and in training every employee in a new way of thinking and behaving. For the gatekeepers of culture and innovation, the team leaders and middle managers this will not be easy.  Not only do they have to change their own mindset and viewpoint they have to be shown how to help their teams to embrace the future.

Innovation, insight, collaboration, agility; all of these require something far more than facts and rulebooks. Put bluntly if you think that sentiment or soft skills have no place in business then innovation is never going to get beyond a note in your annual report or rhetoric on your website and in your marketing material. But why should you bother? If the old way served well for decades why change? Quite simply because the world has changed and continues to do so at an ever increasing pace. Businesses large and small can now all access the same technology, manufacturing techniques, processes and materials meaning traditional forms of competitive advantage and complacency because of scale or size are now obsolete. Look at smart phones for example. They all take pictures, access the internet, enable you to play games… and you can even use them as phones if you want to.  So why choose one over another? Yes you might stay with one brand out of loyalty but it is a fair bet that you are also looking at service, added extras, customer care and reputation.

Next Generation Organisations understand this. They know that innovation is the way to stand out, but they also know that innovation is not just coming up with new products. True innovation infuses the entire organisation from CEO to back office to customer facing employees. True innovation creates exceptional customer experiences and to do this true innovation needs to embrace skills such as empathy, understanding and anticipation. And harking back to the Monty Python sketch, true innovation also understands that failure is not necessarily a reason for sacking but rather an opportunity to learn and grow.

For some a cultural transformation towards innovation will come as naturally as breathing. Others will need time and patience and understanding. But there really is no alternative. Becoming a Next Generation Organisation is the only option in an increasingly homogenous world and those who shun the chance will soon find themselves “peeping about to find dishonourable graves”.

Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and an innovation-leading organisation, get in touch. For information Click here or if you’ve got a question? Ask Cris… [email protected]

Author Profile Picture
Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

Read more from Cris Beswick
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