The Strategist

How to become a successful innovator in your company

08/02/2019 - 09:18

Even a great business model may not be enough to guarantee success of a new product. Innovations threaten the status quo, therefore they often cause fear and resistance from employees of the company and society as a whole.

Beginner innovators leave this negative reaction unattended, putting the product and company at risk. However, you can overcome the fear of innovation by outreaching to everyone who is inclined to experience it.


Failure to manage employees concerns about innovation and its impact on the workflow can cost a company a lot. When the management of Merrill Lynch announced plans to create an online brokerage service, the price of its shares fell by 14%, as there were reports of internal conflicts caused by this idea in a large brokerage unit of the company.

Before unveiling the idea, innovators should explain to employees everything that the company knows about difficulties associated with introducing innovations. Management, together with employees, is looking for ways to eliminate threats so that everyone in the company wins, despite changing roles, responsibilities and the amount of remuneration.

Unlike Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley’s Dean Witter invited employees to openly discuss the company's new strategy for the advent of the Internet. The management’s efforts have fully paid off. When the company officially announced launch of a new electronic project, it was already known that Morgan employees welcomed the initiative of managers. The company's stock price eventually increased by 13%.

Society as a whole

The whole of society can resist innovation, especially if innovation is the result of a technological breakthrough that threatens established social or political norms. The consequences can be devastating.

Consider, for example, the company Monsanto, which produces genetically modified seeds. Intentions of this company raised doubts among European consumers from the very beginning. The reason for this were Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Soil Association. The sharp criticism from the greens has received a wide response in Europe, historically preoccupied with environmental issues and having powerful agricultural lobbies.

Monsanto was mistaken in allowing someone else to start a discussion on GMOs.

The company should have been the first to explain to environmental organizations and the general public what the advantages of genetically modified seeds over conventional ones are, what is their potential in the fight against hunger and disease. Immediately after the products entered the market, Monsanto needed to provide consumers with a choice between organic and genetically modified products. The firm could develop labeling for products grown from genetically modified seeds.

Sustainable Business Ideas

Outreach to employees and the community is to talk about innovation and discuss openly how necessary the innovations are. It is important to convey information about its merits and form clear expectations from the results of the implementation of the idea. Interested parties need to know that they were heard and no surprises are expected. The companies that organize such a dialogue will eventually find that the time and effort spent will pay off with interest.

Release of a new product is an unpredictable process. Many managers consider it a lottery, because you have to pay for errors and it is not known whether you will hit the jackpot. In this view, there is some truth. There will always be an element of good fortune in innovation, and even magic. No one can foresee the future.

However, the presented conceptual model significantly removes the halo of mystery from innovations and puts them in the category of planning-capable business. If you analyze the idea using the tools presented here, and then present it to all interested parties, you can sleep peacefully: your business idea is viable.

Based on "Blue Ocean Strategy Reader" by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

< >

Thursday, May 16th 2024 - 03:10 HSBC starts looking for new CEO