Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Top 50 Most Innovative Companies!

My friends at Fast Company magazine just released their list of 50 most innovative companies, which included some interesting insights we can all benefit from.

The first is that 33 of last year's winners did NOT make it onto this year's list. The insight? Innovation (and the relating benefits) dies if it is not consistently nurtured/supported. Innovation can command price premiums and leverage market share, but only if you "prime the pump" first with a culture that supports it. Use it or lose it. Ouch.

Secondly, the consistent success stories (like our benchmarks Disney, Google, Apple, Ideo, etc.) focus on the same proven strategies and tactics that translate to consistent external brand and business results - even in this hyper-challenging economic time.

Taking the right action when the competition is cowering and waiting for some magic dust to save them, achieves more than a head start. It generates employee engagement, inspired heroism, and efficiencies inside the organization, and differentiation, customer loyalty, and brand buzz outside the organization...all of which captures the ever-elusive competitive edge professionals everywhere want but miss because they refuse to focus on what really works.

It's sad to watch companies stagnate and wither because they are more committed to their policies and procedures than to their employee or customer experiences. By resolving to be innovative and connecting with their customers - both the external customers and the internal (employees) customers - any business remains relevant, dynamic, and growing. According to world-class benchmark companies, this is an exciting and rewarding position to be in.

We all make choices every day. The question is: will it result in "rewards" or in "pain"?

In other words: Are you going to use it, or lose it?

Think about it...but more importantly, act on!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Timing (of ACTION) Is Everything

Ever notice the process of HOW people/organizations manage to become launched into success far above the rest in the industry? Yes, what they do (and how they do it) is a key part - something thousands of books go into great detail about. But the other component critical to success is the timing.

It's often said that it's all about timing - but the action taken must go hand-in-glove for anything of real value to result.

There are naturally occurring economic cycles that often dictate when strategic leaders/companies optimize their potential. There's a "sweet spot" of time when decisive action can be taken that launches success far above the competition: when the competition is too scared to take action themselves.

We're entering that phase right now - the "bottom" of the economic correction is nearing, and the smartest leaders are preparing their employees to launch a sustained service-based customer relationship way of doing business - and leveraging that real difference in their marketing - to steal customers from the competition.

Well, to be more accurate - EARN customers away from the competition.

Customers are going to be much more careful with how they spend their money. And they are remembering how they've been treated by the other options in the industry. They want a great value - which means superior product and experience for the price. Customers who feel they've been mistreated in the past are angry at the lack of honesty, respect, and care they have received...and are looking for a business that earns their loyalty.

That experience doesn't come by accident. Smart leaders are training/preparing now (timing!)to launch an "all out blitz" of great service to customers in an industry of mediocre competitors that mistakenly think they are given acceptable service.

And the customers will make the smart choice.

And the timely action of the wise leaders will pay off...big!

And the industry will wonder "how did I lose so much of my market share to this competitor?" and "how long will it take me to recover?"

But at least you knew...right? Right??

Think about it...but more importantly, act on!