The power to reinvent yourself by innovating

We are living in times when companies are facing massive disruption led by Digital Transformation, the impact of which affects not only companies but also industries and forces leaders to think beyond the world we see today, that is , to reinvent itself.

It is time to ask ourselves if we want to be the disruptors or stay in the status quo, although this last decision is riskier than looking for new ways to transform. Customer experience is more valuable than ever, so knowing how to reinvent yourself is essential to establish a culture of innovation that ensures a satisfying experience.

For example; the company Bayer with more than 100,000 employees has made in recent years innovations in analgesics, polyurethanes, selective herbicides, antibiotics and anticoagulants are on the long list of achievements of the German giant with more than 150 years of foundation, which employs more than 14,000 people in the world only in research and development (R&D).

Bayer's reinvention began seven years ago: They examined how to solve problems, how to generate new ideas and how to drive them into services and products.

The company has rethought and expanded innovation so that people across the company, regardless of their role, can identify and act on opportunities to do things differently. Bayer needed to operate more agile, so that the pace of change within the company kept pace with the competition.

Female boss shows presentation on screen at business meeting

The right innovation model

Bayer developed an agile network, hundreds of volunteers who continued to work primarily in their usual jobs within the existing hierarchy, but dedicating between 5% and 10% of their time to innovation . This practice has become the backbone of innovation ambassadors and coaches throughout the company, collectively assuming responsibility for innovation and transmitting a new culture of innovation.

The model is a strategy designed to excite and involve people rather than explicitly directing them. And is that most of the employees want to do their job well and fit in; therefore, their everyday behavior is driven, in large part, by the informal stimuli and signals they receive from the people around them. So a key priority was inspiring people, using informative and exciting stories from people across the company who had been successful in their efforts to innovate.

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Success is achieved by innovating

The logic is very simple: if companies do not change what they offer to the market (products and services, or both) and do not focus on it, they run the risk of being overtaken by others that do, and from that disappear. In this sense, the ability to innovate has become increasingly important for the creation and maintenance of a company's competitive advantage, as there are numerous studies that indicate that innovative companies tend to show higher profitability, higher market value and higher probability of survival.

But companies face the challenge of generating that innovation. What should I do to create new products and to make my processes more efficient? Where can I find that magic knowledge or idea that will make me more competitive? Obviously, a simple and frequently used answer by companies is to create their R + D + i department, thinking that by investing money and resources they will have a greater probability of bringing new products to market.

Innovate so as not to die trying

What can happen to a company that does not innovate? Simply, sooner or later it will end up surpassed by other companies that work with more agile dynamics.
Companies that want to innovate must rethink several fundamental elements:

1. Leadership enhances work with people, therefore in order to innovate within the company, the focus must be changed from human resources to human resources.
2. The process that allows you to solve complex problems and not just complicated problems.
3. The work environment that encourages collaboration and informal learning.
4. The indicators of success that must be economic but also organizational performance, creativity, speed, flexibility and learning.

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Where can we find opportunities to innovate?

The opportunities to innovate are there, we just have to open our eyes wide and have the appropriate mechanisms in our work. Below, I highlight three opportunities that I consider are essential for this model, like this:

1. Incongruences. There is an opportunity to innovate if it is possible to fill those gaps that the market has not yet covered or if we are able to redefine an existing product to provide a new approach before anyone else.
2. Process needs. An example of this is the success of Amazon promoting a paradigm shift in the distribution of products thanks to its innovative network of suppliers, warehouses and Messenger service.
3. Changes in the industry. For example, there is an opportunity to innovate if we focus on new forms of relationship between users and the media. The media must be able to identify in detail the nature of their audiences in order to foster new forms of relationship and anticipate their needs.

“There is no magic formula that guarantees success in creating a product. Even if we have a great idea, if we are not able to bring it to market successfully, it will remain a beautiful science fiction exercise ”. Pere Rosales

To generate successful products, companies need creative processes and collaborative environments that produce innovative results through the creation of many ideas in a systematic way. The consequence of this way of working is the deliberate change that differentiates innovative companies from those that are not.

Complex problems depend on many variables and have a high degree of uncertainty (VUCA environments). These problems have many ways of being solved and factors that we do not control, such as the will of people outside the organization. To solve complex problems we need applied creativity and mechanisms that favor the generation of innovative ideas within the company.

When companies have the resources to proactively anticipate the complexity of a problem, then we will find ourselves facing an opportunity to innovate using creativity. So; It will be anticipating a problem that has not yet manifested itself but that competition like us will soon have to face. When an organization is able to anticipate complex problems that allow it to innovate, we can say that it has established creative leadership in its processes.