In the current inflationary environment, literally, all over the world, strategic business innovation has emerged as a top priority for companies. Business owners must ensure people throughout the company have the capabilities to drive their innovation strategy and react to market shifts. They must also think about the maintenance of the impact over time to capture and sustain value from it.
The pandemics and war in Ukraine have influenced the rapid growth of online shopping, huge gross margins strained by rising inflation, the constraints of the supply chain, and shifts in the channel mix. These headwinds are the reality of many big and small companies so it is not a surprise that strategic business innovation has emerged as a top priority for consumer leaders. The companies that make the changes well, will be able to meet consumer expectations and align pricing strategies across channels. Those who fail, well… they fail.
But to sustain profits over time, companies should consider embedding innovation best practices across their whole organization. That requires several actions, including establishing the right structures, hardwiring innovation building techniques into core processes, implementing incentives, and—also—building and maintaining innovative capabilities at scale. Indeed, companies that invest in business innovation are more likely to capture and sustain value.
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Essential capabilities encompass not only the skills, but also behaviours, mindsets, and techniques to support and further expand the company’s innovation strategy. Of course, the exact proficiencies will vary across companies and roles, from sales and marketing to finance and supply chain, but the core business innovation capabilities for sustained impact remain the same.
These capabilities provide organizations with the power to manage, react to, and meet all kinds of challenges that rise in inflation. Without thinking long term and wide, the efforts will likely amount to a one-time initiative led by a few experts in central positions and leave companies unguarded when new challenges arise.
This is why business innovation should be placed at the top of the agenda. It may not be easy to do, but there are principles that have worked well at many organizations.
1. Start from the current baseline of knowledge and skills
You won’t build the capability, not knowing where you are at. It is a process and a big commitment for the whole organization and its people. There are companies that perform granular baseline assessments. infuture.fashion can do that for you too.
2. Be cross-functional and collaborative
Successful teams work cross-functionally and use a common specific vocabulary across all departments. Cross-functionality helps maximize the value of innovation capability building as the whole organization becomes aligned on the effort, understanding it and supporting it along the way.
3. Tailor learnings to proficiency levels
While everyone in the organization will benefit from day-to-day business innovation knowledge, different roles require different levels of proficiency. The dedicated department needs to be quite proficient. Innovation is their core function. They will have more emphasis on details. But the rest of the company doesn’t need to recite the dictionary.
Based on the baseline assessments, leaders will identify the gaps between people’s current capabilities and those needed for their role in managing growth. It is necessary to tailor the training curriculum to groups at each proficiency level to show how innovation can be integrated into their day-to-day jobs. That makes organisations able to sustain capabilities.
4. Train to scale
Scaling any capability across an organization is hard. Especially for business innovation, given that it is highly strategic, and a comparably newer capability to strengthen. That’s why, it should be taught by experienced professionals, who are not usually available in large numbers. It is essential to build a system that allows the company to easily scale learning, even as roles change and new people are hired.
5. Harness different learning methods
Our experience indicates that capability building is most effective when there is the right balance of theory and application — when employees learn innovative concepts and then put them into practice. We have been training many teams and we found that they are more effective designing innovative solutions for company they work in, rather than working on ideas out of nowhere. It is not only about creative thinking but also being strategic.
Advanced capabilities in business innovation are only increasing in relevance as the macroeconomic, market, and competitive landscapes continue to evolve and intensify. Companies across the globe have a unique opportunity to reset their strategies to get ahead. But business innovation is not a one-and-done effort. Leaders must assess whether they have the right capabilities to capture opportunities today and the ability to develop those they will need for the future.
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