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Sun, Aug

A word from the wise

Many consultants make the mistake of equating innovation with technology, the internet and owning a garage where you can experiment away the hours.  So it’s a pleasant change to discover a website like Wisepreneur (http://wisepreneur.com ) which aims to help innovators even if they don’t want to invent the next Facebook and focuses on challenges that are firmly grounded in everyday business life.

Recently tackled issues include how to stop that post-meeting drift (when an agreed plan of actions mysteriously drifts in the wrong direction), whether your company unconsciously stifles innovation (by creating a culture where new ideas are stifled by meetings where people say things like “We’ve tried that”, “Management won’t go for it”, etc) and, in an especially timely post, whether you need to do an inventory of your unspoken assumptions and decide which ones should be discarded.

The difficulty is that many of the assumptions that need challenging are the ones that, in management’s view, made the company successful in the first place. But the history of business is full of companies whose strengths became weaknesses where success, ultimately, bred failure. Holly Green, CEO of The Human Factor (a corny name for a consultancy but it doesn’t make her insights less valid) suggests every company could usefully ask these core questions:

  • What has changed with our customers, the market, the industry and the world
  • What assumptions do we still make even though some of us suspect they’re no longer true?
  •  What processes do we hold onto simply because “we’ve always done it that way?”
  •  What new ideas/processes/services have we thought of recently but never progressed because they “would never work”? Has anything changed since we made that call?

 

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