The NYT’s Adam Bryant recently devoted a Corner Office column to the Six Key Drivers that create a culture of innovation in business.  

TrustedPeer CEO Philip Bouchard points out that Bryant overlooks the most important innovation driver of all:  acknowledging and embracing change.  Bouchard shared his views on the 7th Key Driver, which are rooted in his business experience as a CEO as well as his previous training and experience as a Navy SEAL.

 Embracing Change: The 7th Driver of Innovation

  1. Balance change with stability:  Corporations focus on achieving stability.  In an ideal market with no competition, they can tweak the same product every year, work on more efficient manufacturing processes or optimizing solution sales tactics with no pressure and routinized processes.  Embracing change is a necessary counter-balance to moving toward stability.
  2. Don’t be blind:  Any product can be more than just another product, it’s a potential competitor – regardless of the market. The NYT article cited the case of Garmin, the GPS device maker who lost 85% of their sales to Google Maps.  Garmin didn’t see what was going on outside of their industry and got blindsided by Google, which wasn’t even targeting the GPS market.  
  3. Look outside—and listen:  Every company needs to look outside of their comfort zone to understand what consumers are looking for, now and for what’s next.  This process of looking and listening is the basis of creating a culture of innovation.
  4. Be adaptable:  Change happens.  It will happen whether or not we like it (let’s face it, even plants don’t like change).  Change has to be a part of your business strategy. 
  5. Talent matters:  Acquiring the right expertise to make intelligent, targeted change is crucial.  Sometimes companies need to bring in a new perspective to implement innovative changes. It’s not a coincidence that many successful Silicon Valley start-ups have maintained a trend of Acq-Hiring companies.

Change is an opportunity, a positive catalyst.  Smart businesses learn how to use change to their advantage.

What makes the SEAL Teams successful?  They expect change.  They know that no operation is going to result exactly as planned.

Look at the Bin Laden operation.  One of two helicopters critical to the mission became inoperational.  Hey, just another day.  Adjust and continue to execute because you have a culture of embracing change.

Philip Bouchard
Former SEAL Team 2
BUD/S Class 99

If you need consulting on business management, contact TrustedPeer Expert, Philip Bouchard.