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Innovate, or Die

Innovate, or Die
© Wes Gow

Probably you’ve got some kind of executive team, those few who are entrusted with (among other things) increasing market share and industry relevance.

Probably they work in an office far away from the front lines.

Maybe they themselves haven’t been to the front lines in a long time. 

Hopefully those select few are really, really good at their jobs. Your company depends on it, obviously.

But let me reframe that: you’re entrusting the future of your company to a handful of decision-makers. You’re betting on the ideas in between their ears alone to be those that are going to beat your competitors. The heads in that room are responsible to ensure that your company is still around in ten years, let alone relevant or industry-leading.

Sounds like a big gamble to me, or at the very least it sounds like a lot of pressure on a relatively small number people in relation to your overall company.

Wanna here something wild?

There are lots of people in your company who have ideas about how to make it better, how to increase market share, and how to dominate your industry. I guaran-damn-tee you that employees across all levels of your organization have ideas that might just blow the roof off your glass ceiling.

But you’ll never hear about them, because you’re too busy and because they don’t wear suits and because you’re in the office and they’re in the warehouse.

The companies that create an internal culture of valuing innovation over hierarchy are the ones who will dominate their industries…and their competitors.

Let me make one clarification: I’m NOT talking about a suggestion box. Those are a total waste. I’m talking about something closer to a permission slip, an idea ask, an innovation grant.  

For example, what if you had a designated annual fund in which an employee could request an amount to “try something,” to lead a project as opposed to just suggesting a change? What if you created a culture that not only gave a voice to the boots on the ground, but also sought to empower their leadership?  

They might fail.

But they might discover something cool.

When it comes to issues as important as market share and industry relevance, you can limit yourself to the brain juice of a few, or empower your entire workforce to pursue the good work of innovation. To me, it feels like the difference between choosing the rod and reel over the commercial fishing net. Sure, the former is easier to wield or control or keep tabs on, but the latter is gonna yield greater results. No question.

Don’t let your competitor beat you to the haul.