Conscious innovation leads to continuous revenue growth

By: Bill Van Eron Wednesday October 10, 2018 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron

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By Bill Van Eron

Conscious Market Strategist

Headwaters Marketing

I applaud the inspirational, eternal relevance that surfaces from past leaders whether we look at the constitution, the workplace (Drucker), or innovation as values that sustain time and change. Yes, change occurs much faster, values retain significance. Attention to values and new mindsets guides conscious leaders.  

Understanding the problem -- Innovation has long languished as a stated top priority on most CEOs’ Top10 list. Today, nearly all research firms seem to confirm and score innovation in large corporations as dangerously low. Similarly, CEOs struggle to address other top 10 needs. I.E., those connected to enabling employees to shape and feel inclusive to work that matters. Also the legal pressure to focus on short-term growth to make shareholders happy. That causes a bottom line mentality to resist crucial investments in trust, credibility and relevance. While a great majority of corporations put “talent recruitment” at the top of their list, Gallup shows that Millennials and younger gens greatly prefer working as, or in entrepreneurial environments, thus large corporations are frowned upon. Success requires conscious guidance and accountability to earn internal and external ecosystem regard.  

Entering the new success realm: Quite frankly, my own non-traditional approaches to work revealed markets and employees were ready decades ago, once we paid proper attention to their values as an inclusive action. Doing so then shaped a decided 10-year HP advantage. So, it is painful to see how long corporate leaders have resisted embracing the value tenets that truly create greater success then and now. Markets and employees’ earlier values have now become stauncher requirements universally supported by both. As more leaders understand and apply the approaches driving a movement to greater conscious business, through enabled employees and principles of trust and relevance, these same leaders discover that revenue growth and innovation are connected to the same success ecosystem. There is no cheating it -- or exemptions -- as success is determined by the internal & external collective that decide your worthiness as a company & as enabling employees within to shape work of real value.

I have worked in and advised a significant variety of large and small high-tech, low-tech, university, government and many other types of organizations where one would witness a variety of efforts to innovate as crucial. Most were focused on core innovation. It felt like an isolated effort requiring specific technology or other exacting skills. It felt like a “build it and they will come’ effort. Having led and studied change on the front, as defined by customer facing -- sales, channel and events as well as market influencer and editorial relationships, their role and value clearly gets overlooked by most, thus missing higher impact opportunities to innovate relevance.

The following became apparent to me as also promoted earlier in Harvard Business Review’s article entitled –“Managing Your Innovation Portfolio”, provided added perspective on the 70-20-10 Rule regarding Innovation: 

  1. Core Innovation -- 70% of innovation efforts are invested in core innovation (i.e. using existing products and assets to serve existing markets and customers). For some, this model creates incremental (expected) improvements, or at best the occasional higher impact solution that can disrupt competitors. While new technology innovations seem to happen fairly frequently in most industries, the real need and opportunity for all companies is to enable continuous innovation to stay vital. This gap revealed a weakness in corporate cultures to enable and harvest innovation across a broader canvas of opportunity, especially that which can return far greater growth and value.

      2. Adjacent Innovation -- Only 20% of innovation goes to adjacent Innovation “Innovation projects– expand from existing business into new to the company (i.e. add incremental products and                assets and enter adjacent markets and serve adjacent customers e.g. Google Maps).” Adjacent innovation takes place when organizations move outside of themselves, and work with those                  who overlap some part of their core mission. I see alliances, movements and the need for purpose as primary candidates.

      3. Transformative Innovation -- Most revealing is the fact that only 10% is invested in transformational Innovation -- defined as “Developing breakthroughs and inventing things for markets that              don’t yet exist (i.e. develop new products and assets and create new markets and target new customer needs e.g. ipad).” Applying 70-20-10 to innovation has been discussed before in the                  context of Coca Cola (marketing) and Google (technology).

They also provide a most curious inverse corollary… Yet here is the rub. In terms of innovation returns — the core generates 10%, the adjacent 20%, and the transformational generates 70%.”

Leaders who determine such product-focused innovation efforts seem less aware of the high value and ROI of conscious innovation approaches, including adjacent and transformational innovation. Certainly, a conscious approach infers the balance that helps to fund and justify all approaches as beneficial and inclusive.

Our approach to a true consciously designed solution rises above the noise in the transformation and innovation category, in that we respected and factored in why leaders have resisted earlier solutions as slow, complex, expensive and risky. One other concern we see reported is that leaders can feel inundated by unqualified ideas, so they pay less or no attention to them. With ideas being the lifeblood of any business’ relevance and growth, the conscious answer would be to improve the quality of ideas through the following:

  1. A more open culture so as to create the playing field to challenge status quo limiters; have open dialog, diversity in thought, skills, ethnicity and gender, greater inclusion; all conducive to an environment of continuous and varied innovation.
  2. Grow more champions within. Having employee development programs beyond the norms that train for repetitive work, to thus enable, recognize and reward internal champions is crucial. As champions learn how to synthesize internal and external values across what is clearly your success ecosystem, and then how to apply those insights to shape a more meaningful brand, core functions and work to earn trust, credibility, relevance and more…where these new skills get integrated with core skills and work requirements, the outcomes improve dramatically. I know this because I did this without that support network, yet the impact solidified the ecosystem, applied a wide range of innovation and returned huge revenue growth every time for 12 years, using principles designed for this new economy.
  3. Focus on others and what defines win-win interdependent relationships. Thankfully, as customers of late cringe at the thought of being sold or marketed to, that financial reality is inspiring new age leaders to back off typical corporate agendas to consciously shape two-way relationships to each group that exists within the internal and external ecosystem. Don’t just expect success…earn it.

Leaders who realign their business to map internal and external values into a responsive, integrated, agile, human-enabling solution will prosper and leave behind those that lag in adopting these values in an age of total transparency -- soon -- greater accountability and credibility as key assets of trust, relevance across varied, unexpected yet valued, inclusive thus conscious innovation. 

Summary: Transformational innovation accounts for the highest growth. For traditional businesses, it initially may prove difficult to master when using conventional mindsets and skills. Success means conscious attention to five components of your business:

  • Commit to conscious design and leadership as a natural compass to extended success. That catalyzes conscious organizational design, objectivity, accountability, shared cross-functional priorities, culture and mindset …all defining your new talent. Because the skills needed for transformational and even experiential and value creation innovations are quite different from core innovation efforts.
  • Initially offer that talent a chance to work separately from the core business so they can escape the gravitational pull of the corporate past and seek support from a new breed of conscious innovation advisors. Champions soon inspire wider application, inclusion, higher quality ideas and innovation.
  • Sustained, and often significant, funding, which becomes easier as success defines the new normal.
  • Define and establish effective oversight of a more conscious innovation pipeline, so that champions are not impeded and that sufficient innovation is in the works to handle future needs.
  • A system that trains, inspires, tests, confirms mastery in evidence with measures, including recognition and rewards to help leaders effectively assess the initiatives that are taken to market and that impact internal alignment and revenue growth. This is what we created with Nav360.
Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron is CEO of Headwaters Marketing and Innovation and has initiated a timely unique alliance between us, Rapid KT Services, along with a growing group of world class business and innovation coaches on tap to form the NAV360 Business Value Ecosystem Alliance. While the business world stresses over disruptive technologies, and disruptive transformation, we inspire, prepare, and prove out the performance value of trust and earned regard across the internal & external ecosystem. Contact info: [email protected] https://www.rapidktservices.com https://www.headwatersmarketing.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-van-eron/ 970-825-3278 cell