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5 tips to drive innovation and maintain your competitive edge

5 tips to drive innovation and maintain your competitive edge

Has your business developed great, innovative ideas which have given you a competitive advantage? Great news! But don’t get too comfortable. At some point, your competitors are likely to trump you unless you work hard to keep that edge.

According to Forbes, the world’s most innovative companies today include Salesforce, Tesla, Amazon and Netflix, names no doubt you are familiar with. This is the big league. Looking at the lessons of these companies, we’ve pulled together some top tips for you. Read on to find out what your business can do to drive innovation and maintain your competitive edge.

Create a culture of trust

Building trust is crucial for businesses today, particularly with all the ‘fake news’ out there. It’s important for businesses to gain consumer’s and client’s trust, but it’s equally important for businesses to build a culture of trust within their walls.

Innovative ideas can come from anyone in the business. Whilst there must be buy-in from the leadership team when it comes to innovation, it is often those who are in operational roles or on the frontlines who come up with the best ways to improve the business. By building a culture of trust, you’ll encourage everyone to share those ideas and inevitably make improvements and drive innovation in the business. Always listen, respect, and learn.

Develop processes which will measure your innovations

Great ideas can easily be lost in the everyday shuffle if there is no process to qualify their worth. Are they innovative? Will they give you the competitive edge or is the ROI poor?

There are some great articles on how to measure innovation, ranging from the number of ideas submitted through to patents filed. For the most innovative businesses, the processes are not over complicated and they are easy for employees to follow. There should also be a system in place to ensure that ideas flow through the ‘funnel’ to the relevant expert who can assess the ROI and potentially implement the suggestion.

Take risks

One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford, who said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Taking risks is absolutely essential to drive innovation.

Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsche New York spoke with ‘Fortune’ about taking risks. She said, “Without it(risks), ideas would be secondhand and innovation and invention would be impossible. Any sector of business depends and thrives on fresh, original thinking, taking chances, and exploring new territory. Innovation can be a company’s most powerful strategic advantage, especially in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace”. 

Look at Airbnb and Uber, for instance. They’ve had great success, partially because they have broken away from the traditional industry ‘rules’. You’ll most likely hit some bumps along the way, but you never know where you might end up!

Know your competitors AND your customers

Let’s use the telecoms sector as an example. Blackberry, once the executive's phone of choice, now has a market share of less than 1%. When Apple launched its iPhone, they were sleek, they had touchscreens, and they were so desirable.

Blackberry was blindsided. They failed to understand what their customers wanted, and instead, they clung on to old technology. Then WhatsApp replaced BBM and the game was over.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Not all ideas will be commercially viable now, or in some cases ever. Learn from your experiences – especially your failures – and use that knowledge to your competitive advantage.

Have you heard of Pebble? It was the most funded Kickstarter product of all time in 2012. The technology behind this smartwatch can be found in today’s top smartwatches. They sold their technology to Fitbit in 2017…

More on innovation in the UAE and how Hanson Search can help

In the UAE, there is a firm commitment by the Ruler to be leaders in innovation and excellence. In this effort, we at Hanson Search MENA are working with the top consultancies, government departments, and innovation leaders within the worlds MNCs to ensure that the most forward-thinking people are a part of this great initiative for the future.

The path to economic growth and prosperity requires creativity, innovation and excellence across all sectors. …Innovation is not inherited, but a culture that has to be created. The UAE and our brothers across the GCC are on the right path of economic progress. Let us continue to walk together towards business excellence and social prosperity. We will be supported by the firm resolve, sincerity and determination of our young people. We need to support them and their capabilities to reach the top to achieve happiness and prosperity now and for future generations.”

– His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai

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Author: Elaine Hardman

With over 17 years of experience in executive search and recruitment, Elaine has a well-developed ability to build relationships and engage stakeholders.

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