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It don’t come easy: continuous improvement and innovation

January 15, 2013
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 “Most businesspeople are so busy working for their business or in their business that they never find time to work on their business. Thus they fail to anticipate what might happen or what they might be able to make happen”. –The Fast Eat the Slow

 

Within our sustainability consulting practice, we have learned that one of the keys to business sustainability is a conscious and continuous effort for improvement. 

Reviewing this past year: Has your organization delayed business sustainability strategies to see how the market responds before taking action? Has management been afraid to commit resources and capital to sustainability initiatives?  Or, has your businesses harnessed the organizational power of sustainability to deliver top and bottom line results?

There is value in regularly scheduling time to work on the business and answer critical questions affecting the business and its stakeholders. True value capture comes from strategies that continuously engage the expectations of key stakeholders. These ongoing touch points with key players create a dynamic work-plan with periodic checkpoints of performance.

Additionally, to aid 2013 planning is the use of creativity and innovation.  Many focus on traditional approaches yet are surprised that the year end results are not different.

“To offset the pressures for efficiency, companies should refrain from forcing creative teams into one method for innovating; seed lots of methods, tools and time lines across the company and enlist many middle managers in the effort, a consultant says. Focus on innovation should come from the top.”  -CBE Views

We propose introducing a sustainable mindset to spark 2013 planning. Consider:

  •  Be open to new tools, methods – You won’t succeed if you try to seed innovation in only one business area or product line.  You need lots of tools and methods, a variety of time lines, and middle managers across the organization primed for innovation.
  • Become more “plastic” – Brain scientists talk about plasticity – the advantages of being open, flexible and nimble. The same holds for innovation.
  • Keep experimenting – Try lots of experiments and prototyping. Consider the effort as being as much about discovery and new insights as it is about validating internal perspectives and theories.
  • Embrace patience – Innovation requires patience, as does creating the systems and culture to make innovation happen. It also requires will.

Implementing business sustainability in today’s environment can be a delicate balance between planning for today and planning for the future. While many organizations are taking more conservative action, our sustainability consulting finds leading companies are reevaluating and retooling for the future.

Kick start your 2013 success by finding out what sustainability can mean for your business.  By anticipating and taking proactive steps to address change in the business world, your business will not only capture immediate value but define itself as a business sustainability leader in its industry.

 

Originally posted at the Taiga Company blog by Julie Urlaub, founder and managing partner at Taiga Company

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