Don’t Bail on Innovation

futurethink_innovationdesert

It seems like everything we read these days has to do with the financial bail out. Everyone seems to be bickering over who should get a “rescue package” and why. But we’re not going to talk about that. Instead, we’re going reiterate the message we’ve been telling our readers and clients for the past few months: Don’t bail on innovation.

Sure, it’s easy to push innovation to the back burner (or even take it off the burner completely) when times get tough and resources are tight. But now, more than ever, it’s critical that you remember the importance innovation will play in helping revive our struggling economy. Innovation will help smart companies tap new streams of revenue. Innovation will build new business models. Innovation will eliminate wastefulness and inefficiency. Innovation will not only help you survive this economic downturn; it will help you come out on top.

We were recently inspired by an article by Innosight’s Kevin Bolen (registration required). In it, Bolen gives a frank overview of what innovators should and should not do during economically turbulent times. In short, Bolen recommends that innovators accept reality and devote more time and energy to helping strengthen the core business without trying to divert resources to untested, risky new projects. But with this recommendation, Bolen reminds us that “Even in downturns, there is always a market for truly disruptive ideas and the people who drive them.”

If nothing else, the current business environment provides us with a much-needed opportunity to step back and reevaluate what we’re doing and for whom. What does innovation really mean to your organization? What should innovation do for your business and its customers? Who are your customers and what do you need to do for them? The answers to these questions might change given today’s business realities-and that’s okay-but don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to abandon innovation efforts completely in order to survive. You may find that innovation is just what you need to survive.

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