‘The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines,” said Peter Drucker an acclaimed management consultant and author. It may sound too radical, but the visionary wisdom behind those words cannot be overlooked. Today, we live in an age of fastpaced changes where organisations must strive for evolution and innovation. Revenue, profits, sales are necessary for a company’s growth, but what is crucial for it to stay relevant. It includes organisational resilience to anticipate and respond to incremental change and sudden disruptions to survive and thrive. It also implies that we recognise people’s innate capacity to adapt and create.
Geniuses like Steve Jobs took the world by storm using his innovative skills. He experimented with different pursuits before starting Apple computer with Steve Wozniak in 1976. Apple’s revolutionary products which have been dictating the evolution of modern technology were nothing but the manifestations of an innovative mind.
Innovative companies attract creative employees who set in motion an environment of innovation. The fallout of this creative thinking — the satisfaction and the excitement of solving interesting problems, the sense of achievement, the thrill of collaboration, and the augmentation of skills are all key ingredients to the kind of purpose-driven culture that fosters disruptive innovation.
Traditional carrots — pay hikes, bonuses, perks, and sticks — poor appraisal, denial of increment and lack of promotion, do work, but only to an extent in motivating employees. Real motivation comes from within and is best generated in an atmosphere of growth and creativity. It keeps employees energised and committed, especially the world-changers and the risk takers, who thrive on disruption. The promise of innovation gives purpose and meaning to their work. Such people are an asset for companies that want to stay ahead of competition.
An organisation is all about its people.
Long-term innovation models require dedicated inputs, support, and engagement from the employees and all stakeholders involved. Progressive organisations are the ones having skills to manage complexities of human minds. To be successful in today’s fast-changing business environments with collective and energised value-creation, companies need to adopt holistically innovative mindset. Creativity and innovation at workplace progress with soul searching. If organisations are able to find out their raison d’être, capabilities grow like never before. On the other hand, if they only focus on revenue generation, there are chances of disenchantment of the employees. Inculcating a culture of innovation is imperative even for better human resource management, attracting inspired talent and managing brand reputation. Even a decade back, innovation was viewed as a primary challenge of building leadership capabilities. Today the lens of innovation has become the indispensable high-performance mantra to incubate experiment and come up with breakthroughs. Innovative leaders are today agents of change and an asset for any organisation. They lead by example to generate new ideas and turn challenges into opportunities, to stay one step ahead of the curve every time.
Here, it must also be pointed out that an organisation’s innovation need not always be in the domain of products or services. All of that ultimately adds to the value chain of building efficient workplaces. Here, it is important to underline that while innovative ideas can be arbitrary or unstructured, the roadmap for execution needs to be clear.
It is becoming increasingly clear that innovation backed by adequate in-house R&D is the way forward to succeed and for employees to excel. There are companies that have launched internal start-up programmers, where teams work on entrepreneurial ideas, to stimulate creativity. Others have started competitions where employees pitch ideas to improve the business, and the best ones get funding and support. When it comes to companies operating in the agrochemical space, embracing cutting-edge innovative technologies helps immensely in dealing with issues on-ground, and developing sustainable products for customised needs.
But it’s not as if innovation is new to Indian business. The rural community driven economy of our country has been turning to Jugaad (which itself is ground-level innovation at its best) for as long as one can remember.
The digital age we live in allows a more open and collaborative environment where everyone works to brainstorm on ideas. The new environment allows for collaboration and ideas to come from any quarter, not hemmed in by hierarchies. Inculcating a culture of innovation is one of the most important things a leader can do to improve the performance of employees and the balance sheet of the company. But it is tough. Entrenched corporate cultures thwart innovation efforts. Business leaders need to reinvent their culture and deliver better innovation.
But going forward, only disruptive process-driven innovation will act as a critical differentiator in outperforming the existing standards of organisational excellence. When led by outstanding torchbearers or smart entrepreneurs, effective innovation management policies can energise teams to deliver their best. Instead of chasing profits for shareholders, one must focus on innovation which creates value for all stake holders.
The Writer Is Managing Director, Insecticides India Ltd.