Champion Leadership Tip #20 – Leaders Must Push for Innovation

The old adage “if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten” is no longer relevant.

Few companies that market the way they marketed five years ago are getting similar results. Sales professionals who approached the sales process the way they did five years ago are struggling. Companies that approach customer service the way they did five years ago are losing customers to the competition and getting eaten alive from Twitter posts that go viral.

The number one challenge I see my clients asking for is some way to differentiate themselves in industries and markets that continually get more and more competitive.

Organization leaders today need to get more creative and innovative to survive. Yet few small business leaders and leaders of non-profits invest time in innovation sessions.

The 2005 book “Blue Ocean Strategy” showed companies that had innovated in ways that did not just redefine their business but created an entire new industry and business genre.

Examples in “Blue Ocean Strategy” are companies like NetJets which redefined corporate air travel strategy allowing corporations to “time share” corporate jet usage instead of having to invest in a corporate jet of their own, saving millions of dollars.

Cirque du Soleil created an entirely new approach to circus entertainment, while Yellow Tail wine created a niche market at a new price point in the spirits industry.

Regardless of your company’s size the next time you decide its time for a Strategic Planning session, I recommend you throw out the antiquated SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) model.

Instead grab a copy of “Blue Ocean Strategy,” or another book on innovative business strategy, and apply some of the more creative questions and models that helped the companies described to define a whole new market.

They made the competition irrelevant and you can too, for a little while at least.