No one said that being a leader is supposed to be easy. You have to keep everything moving forward in the core business, while continually figuring out how to beat competitors who may not even exist. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish this and be an innovation leader:

See also: The secrets of long lasting family business: Hard work, innovation and some luck

  1. Separate the innovators from the sustainers

There are talented employees in your company who are good at keeping things on track. They build the products, service the customers, manage the books, hire and administer the staff, and so forth. However, these sustainers can be like a deer in the headlights when it comes to innovation and will do their best to stifle the new idea if it threatens the status quo.

  1. Go for the big win

Sure, you can innovate on little things, like a subtle change in pricing strategy or some new product features. But, why not go for the big win – the 2x, 3x or 10x improvement – to pull away from the competition.

  1. Never take your success for granted

If you are tempted to do so, think about yesterday’s seemingly unbeatable market leaders such as, Kodak, Sun Microsystems, Sears, Blockbuster, Nokia, and Blackberry. Also keep in mind that only 71 companies remain today from the original 1955 Fortune 500 list.

  1. Organize to embrace innovation

I have seen instances where “innovation” was no more than one of the so-called company values listed on a coffee mug. The organizations that claim to support innovation don’t have to talk about it; they live it. They give space for people to make mistakes and don’t keep pulling the innovators back to the core business every time they hit a bump in the quarterly numbers.

See also: Five steps to foster innovation in your organization

  1. Allow for controversy

As Margaret Heffernan said in her Ted Talk, Daring to Disagree, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.


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