Innovate; to introduce as something new, to renew, alter, to make changes. Chambers Dictionary

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be flexible in business. In my article, ‘5 Ways to Learn to Embrace Mistakes’, I talk about creating a culture in your business where mistakes are all part of the learning process.

Innovation comes as part of our business development and quite often after a mistake has shown us that a new method, process, design or approach is needed to solve a particular problem.

TIP: Find someone to discuss your ideas with, using past failures as inspiration for innovation. Give that person or people an opportunity to contribute.

I have spoken at length about planning and forecasting in business, being prepared for obstacles and expecting the unexpected. Often innovations can save us from being derailed when we face an obstacle…

Blockbuster Video – A real life example of failure to innovate when faced with an obstacle

As a youngster I used to look forward to those special evenings when we would visit the video rental shop and bring home the latest epic film. The whole experience involved looking forward to the release, buying some snacks, maybe inviting a friend over, or getting a takeaway. We’d all sit round together and make a big deal of the event.

However, as I grew older, I realised that the least favourable part of that event was trapsing out to the video store, and then back again to return it and risk a fine if you were late.

Then along came the digital revolution and the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and the countless other digital movie hosting platforms.

According to Forbes, ‘Blockbuster believed (according to their data) that people liked – and arguably even preferred – going into their stores. Blockbuster felt that their customers enjoyed the experience of opening their games and movies so that they could see the contents in their entirety. Moreover, Blockbuster also felt that their customers enjoyed the possibility of seeing neighbours around the stores.’ Innovate or Die, Forbes

Sadly, Blockbuster’s beliefs were misconstrued and they failed to survive in the digital world.

Benefits to encouraging innovation in business

If Blockbuster had embraced a digital platform, they could have easily taken the competitive advantage over new and unknown providers as they had a well-established brand reputation in the market. And that’s a huge benefit to innovation – the competitive edge.

Other benefits include providing a better service, developing better products, higher customer satisfaction, greater staff satisfaction and retention (since progression and positive change is exciting, especially to more creative people), and leadership development.

In conclusion, I would say that not only is innovation essential to grow a business, but as our market changes around us, without innovation the business risks it’s very existence.

Further reading on recognising when change is needed, and how to tackle it can be found in the following articles:

Financial Forecasting, Part One

How to get over obstacles in business

One page business plan

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