Innovation Is Key to a Company's Growth. Here are 6 Ways to Avoid Stagnation
04/11/23 by Motion Consulting Group
Innovate or die. It's one of those cliches that have withstood the test of time, and in today’s digital transformation world, the axiom is now more relevant than ever. Consider the myriad of threats facing companies that don’t innovate and get left behind by their competitors: evolving technologies, emerging platforms, changing market demands, economic shifts, and a shrinking and more demanding workforce, just to name a few.
Here are three simple key indicators that can help any leader detect if their organization might just fall into the at-risk category to any of the above threats, and three suggestions on how to get back on track.
1. Change is Too Risky
If key leaders declare that the organization is doing the best it has ever done, why change anything? According to Harvard Business Review, “A paralyzed senior management often comes from having too many managers and not enough leaders. Management’s mandate is to minimize risk and to keep the current system operating. Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership. Transformations often begin, and begin well, when an organization has a new head who is a good leader and who sees the need for a major change.”
2. Technical Debt Piling Up
Technical architecture becomes a secondary investment behind the process of churning out backlog features according to the product plan. Many times, product groups don’t factor in technical debt (cost incurred when businesses do not fix technology problems that will affect them in the future) when considering a product evolution; they just want their features now so they can go to market and land new customers.
Unfortunately, this causes a huge disconnect as engineers are not allowed to build the product using a current technology stack, limiting its ability to scale, work effectively in the cloud, meet rapid release schedules, etc. Basically, a recipe for disaster.
3. Engineers not Involved in Actually Solving Problems.
According to SVPG, “The best single source for innovation is your engineers because they’re working with the enabling technology every day, so they’re in the best position to see what’s just now possible."
Empowerment of an engineer means a company provides engineers with the problem to solve, and the strategic context; then they are able to leverage technology to figure out the best solution to the problem.
If you are seeing some of these red flags at your company, hope is not lost. There are steps to take to get back on track and rid yourself of these innovation killers inside your organization:
1. Find your Way Back to the Roots of what Made your Organization Great
Nobody starts a company with the desire to maintain the status quo. One of the keys to business success is coming up with new ideas to keep operations, products and services fresh. Innovation is the process of bringing those ideas to fruition. Not just once a quarter or once a year, but rather it needs to occur continuously.
This is one of the main reasons people join startups, to make a difference and feel valued. Great companies (large and small) empower their employees to make mistakes, figure things out and solve problems without breaking their spirit and drive.
2. Connect Engineers with Customer Pain
Remove the process scaling layers that separate engineers from being able to solve customer problems. The solution so often finds itself when engineers are able to witness the customer's pain first-hand.
According to SVPG, “Your engineers need to understand the business context. So many CEOs and product managers think they need to shelter their engineers from the ugly details and angry customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are the people that will save you. But they need the context. So, share with them the vision, strategy, analytics, business goals, contractual requirements, and legal issues. Anything that might impact the product. They can handle it, and they will appreciate it.”
3. Pivot the Product and Technology Organizations to Operate as One Through Delivery
Integrated, cross-functional technology teams are essential for successful delivery.
According to McKinsey, forming an integrated technology model creates value but can be difficult to achieve. “The right approach centers teams on tech products and platforms, focuses them on business goals, and helps them prioritize technology work. And more companies are choosing to remove the divide between their digital programs and their traditional IT delivery by bringing them into a single technology operating model.
Combining digital operations (in which cross-functional teams apply new technologies and ways of working, such as agile, to improve user experiences) and traditional IT delivery (in which technical specialists develop and maintain core business systems according to traditional methods) has evident benefits.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how top teams maintain innovation as a part of their culture, join us on April 20th as Motion Consulting Group partners with Tech in Motion to produce: Product Innovation in Times of Economic Uncertainty.