Looking for some powerful ways to super-charge your business continuity plan and carry you long past pandemic challenges? Consider putting these creative ways of turning things around to work ...
Seven Innovation Skills that Can Double Sales and Profitability
1. Connecting the Unconnected
One innovation skill has to do with the ability to connect two unconnected issues for a new solution or dynamic. Get your team to look at solutions and innovations from outside your company, industry and business.
2. Challenge the Status Quo
Continually encourage your team to ask why, why not, and what if, of the many givens in your business. Great innovations come from someone asking a great question. I have seen some companies benefit by actually having a list of these questions that they will pull out when dealing with their top objectives, challenges and constraints.
Taking a position or issue and flipping it (or your conversation or consideration about it) to the opposite view is a common technique innovators use to change paradigms and discover new solutions. Playing devil’s advocate or flipping an issue to the opposite possibility tends to create a synthesis and thus a new idea. If you were to have sales or marketing people regularly attempt to persuade you or others as to why a customer should buy from the competition, odds are you will all learn something, and perhaps innovate a new marketing or sales approach.
4. Embracing Constraints
Great questions create nonexistent constraints. For example, ask your team questions like, “If we weren’t currently carrying this product or selling to this market or conducting business in this manner, would we even consider beginning to?” Or, “If we were legally prevented from selling to any of our existing customers, how would you make money next year?” A false constraint challenges one’s mind to think of alternatives and is an excellent exercise to facilitate with a sales team to help them innovate ways to sell to more non-customers.
5. Study Customers Like a Scientist
A common Japanese saying used in many businesses is “genchi genbutsu,” which means, “going to the spot and seeing for yourself.” The concept is to go to your customers as they are using your product or service and actually watching and intently studying them and their situation.
Perhaps you are already familiar with test marketing and the “A/B Testing” of alternate advertising campaigns to continuously improve your customer acquisition, but how much more experimentation could you do? When leaders talk about wanting to encourage their team members to be unafraid of failure and to learn from their mistakes, they expect their team members to engage in calculated risk-taking and continual experimentation to improve processes. Encourage your team to test and experiment more often for improvements they could implement. Consider holding lunch-and-learns where people share their experiments, lessons learned, failures and of course, successes.
In one company there hangs a sign in most everyone’s office. It reads: “The insights required to solve many of our most challenging problems come from outside our industry and scientific field. We must aggressively and proudly incorporate into our work, findings and advances which were not invented here.”
As a leader, you must work to expel the “Not Invented Here” syndrome and encourage your people to network widely inside and perhaps outside the industry. Some have said that changes only happen to people because of the books they’ve read and the people they’ve met. Finding places where best practices are shared, and where productive yet diverse relationships are built, will help to bring more innovation into your workplace.
About Mark Faust
Each Tuesday, turnaround consultant Mark Faust will be sharing his expertise on how to turn around your small business. His blogs will be filled with practical insights and basic turnaround strategies designed to guide you through crisis leadership and change management. You'll be able to tap into tips on everything from profitability issues, business continuity plans and pandemic pivots to operational processes, marketing and customers additional value.
As one of the companies he helped grow, we know first hand how inspiring his leadership is and just how well it works! Mark has also agreed to make his best-selling book ‘Growth or Bust’ available, free of charge, to any small business to help them create their own effective turnaround plan. We’ll be sharing that with you soon.
You can learn more about Mark and his company, Echelon Management, by clicking here.
Looking for more small business help?
At InspireHUB, we’ve been blessed with a network that includes some of the foremost leaders in the world. A few years ago, we had the pleasure of meeting Mark Faust. Mark has over thirty years of experience in helping companies turn around through his company Echelon Management International. The brands he’s helped include John Deere, Apple, Bayer, IBM and P&G. He also helped me personally and professionally with InspireHUB as we morphed to become the company we are today.
His insight and expertise are invaluable, but realistically, the majority of small businesses would never get access to a “Mark” due to the size of their budget. Having someone like Mark literally can be a life-saving exercise for any size business. What impressed me the most about the work Mark and I did together was the bulk of it was not business tactics and strategy; it was about myself as a leader. Understanding what motivated me, where I found my hope, what would INSPIRE me to wake up every day and work on this business.
Here's how Mark helped transform InspireHUB and how he's going to do the same for YOUR small business ...
What beliefs and behaviors are holding you back the most personally and at your organization? Frequently for leaders, a personal limiting belief or behavior is also affecting their organization.
Learning to uncover your blind spots to growth can benefit from having a third party conduct “360 interviews”. Then comes the hard part: following through on changing those behaviors.
Frank Wagner, Ph.D., is one of the world’s thought leaders in behavioral change and leadership coaching. He shared with me scientifically proven strategies that have a profound effect on helping anyone change behavior. I recommend management and sales staff be the first to use the following two strategies for building new habits that will foster growth.
The first exercise is a powerful energizing meeting opener, team builder and brainstorming tool that will help anyone to both connect a more powerful and positive association with changing a behavior as well as get ideas on how to accomplish the change.
Instead of “Feedback” it’s called “FeedForward.”