You Can Be Innovative

What does innovation mean to you? Do new inventions and lofty plans come to mind? That’s common. So often we think we need to invent the next iPhone or Tesla to be innovative. But that’s just one type of innovation; as organizations, we typically have the most to gain when we consistently practice the other forms of innovation.

You don’t need to be a technology company. Every organization can be innovative and see the results. Innovation is the process of bringing a new idea — not just a product — to the marketplace to solve a problem, improve efficiency or gain a greater competitive advantage.

At Marco, people often will hear me say “Fail forward faster.” The goal is to keep being creative, trying new things and learning from mistakes. Innovation is a discipline, not a one-time event.

All types of innovation include two variables: technology (what/how you deliver) and market (where/who you deliver). Here’s a look at how they’re applied:

    Most of the innovation that Marco gets credit for is related to this type of innovation. It focuses on bringing existing technology to an existing market in a different way. Almost every organization can implement this type of innovation. Take banking. All money is green, but the service delivery can be a differentiator. ING was a leader in removing the traditional brick and mortar from banking.

    Consider this:
    How can I bundle, package or deliver what we do differently?

    This is one of my favorite types of innovation. It’s often referred to as “stealth innovation” and focuses on bringing new technology to an existing market. When Marco moved from the typewriter to the PC and then to the cloud, the company applied this type of innovation. Today, we see it play out with telehealth for virtual office visits and the move from cable and satellite TV to YouTubeTV and Hulu or even Netflix.

    Consider this:
    How can you reinvent a piece of your business in this tech-driven world?

    This may be the most commonly overlooked type of innovation. It relates to bringing existing technology into a new market (think vertical or customer segment). Like the other three types of innovation that I have already mentioned, this one can be applied by any organization. We saw this play out in the past year, possibly more than ever, due to the economic and social shake ups. Although video has long been used in the business conference room, it became part of the classroom and an essential tool for the remote worker.

    Consider this:
    How can you be proactive to bring what you do to new customer segments?

    This is likely what most people think of when they hear innovation. The applications can be seen again and again on Shark Tank. It focuses on bringing new technology to a new market — through inventions. The results can be pretty cool and often includes patents. It actually is the one type of innovation that Marco rarely – if ever – executes on. Brainstorming this type of innovation can be fun and ignite some creativity that leads to other breakthroughs.

    Consider this:
    What is a problem that needs solving?

2021 Plans

Innovation can take many forms and should be a part of every organization – and every team. As you plan your strategies for 2021, consider how you can be innovative to drive new revenue for your organization and create more value to the people you serve.

How do these play out? Join us for the conversation as Marco President Doug Albregts and I share stories about how we’ve seen each type of innovation play out and the impact. Sign up for an alert when it’s live.

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Topics: Leadership, Innovation