Is Innovation Really A Business’s Secret to A Competitive Edge?

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Brad Smith, the president and CEO of Intuit, has been writing a series of blogs on innovation lately that have caught my eye. The series is called “Innovating At Scale” and attempts to give advice to organizations looking to become “more nimble and responsive.” So far he has covered the following topics:

These posts are an elaboration of General Stanley McChrystal’s four principles for making organizations more nimble and responsive which are as follows:

  • Common Purpose
  • Shared Consciousness
  • Empowered Execution
  • Trust

We are assuming this means that Brad Smith isn’t finished with his blog series yet, and will round it out with something along the lines of that last tenant, trust.

So what insight does Mr. Smith have on innovation and its affect on your business, in relation to General McChrystal’s four principles?  First, a recap on his blog posts…

In Relation to his “Creating Common Purpose” Blog

  • Common purpose transforms “me” into “we”
  • It’s important for a leader to define a common goal
  • Common purpose brings out the best in people when dedicated to a larger, bigger mission

In Relation to his “Leaders Must Learn to Think Out Loud” Blog

  • Best decisions are made closest to the action
  • Shared consciousness feeds common purpose
  • Optimal local decisions serve broader organizational objectives
  • Transparecy builds trust, precision, and confidence
  • “The goal of a shared consciousness model is to build an adaptive, empowered and self-learning system”
  • Empowered, free-flowing ideas = better, faster decisions

In Relation to his “Empowering Teams to Move Fast” Blog

  • A large priority for leaders is to create small groups and equip them with the resources to execute quickly and effectively
  • Leaders must be “eyes on and hands off”
  • Reward the fastest teams and implement their strategies as best practices for other teams
  • Fear can cause setbacks within teams choosing standardization verus optimization
  • Empowered execution = highly talented people –> maximize speed to learning –> deliver more innovative solutions

So what does this mean for you and your organization?  What do these principles teach you in reference to the art of innovation, and in turn business?  What we took away from Brad Smith’s useful blog posts is rather simple.  By changing the way you think as a leader, or an organization (essentially using more innovative approaches to conducting business), you in turn drive innovation WITHIN your organization.  The more open and collaborative your practices, the greater speed at which innovative solutions are accomplished.

So this then gives you the answer to our title question. If innovation allows your teams to work faster and more effectively to common goals and better solutions, it must be the secret to a competitive edge.  Imagine implementing these practices before the crowd.  If you are empowering your employees to be more and do more, you will get more in return, and that innovation can drive your organization to great success.

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