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Innovation means using failure to grow your business

Posted Jun 03 2009 10:19am
Innovation is the new business buzz word, it seems. Everyone is talking about companies that innovate being companies that will succeed in tough economic times, but no one talks about the risks of innovation.

Innovation means something new or different. Dictionary.com defines it as “the introduction of new things or methods.” Trying something new or different means risking failure – something most of us CEO types are pretty averse to doing.

Late Friday afternoon I was clicking through links I’d saved during the week to read “later.” I ended up on youtube.com and, as one can easily do there, I moved several clicks away from the original link that caught my attention

One video that struck me as worth listening to – twice – was an interview with Columbia Business School Professor Rita McGrath titled “ Use Failure to Grow your Business ” (see the full interview below).

My initial reaction was probably like yours: “I don’t plan on having any failures.” But it was a slow Friday afternoon, so I listened to the first few sentences and I was hooked.

Dr. McGrath is the author of “Discovery Driven Growth.” Her book is designed to give leaders tools to innovate in their business; to go where they have no past experience going before; where they risk, in fact, failure.

McGrath points out that as you innovate assumptions form the basis for your business decisions – not facts. If you had facts, as she puts it, “Anyone could do it.” But innovation, by its very definition, means doing something for which we can’t find a road map. It means traveling somewhere completely new to us.

The core idea of discovery-driven growth, then, is to “plan to learn not plan to be right.”

Hence the possibility of failures while we’re learning. While McGrath continues in her interview to talk about ways to fail quickly and fail cheaply as being crucial to the learning cycle, she also talks about setting the stage for success in the fundamentals; the things we can control.

If you’re looking for new ways to grow your business and succeed in a changing economic environment, take 10 minutes to listen to this video.

And while you’re considering ways to minimize your risk, let us help you cover the fundamentals of staff training and regulatory compliance in training. We’re innovating, too; offering you a risk-free trial to see how it works for your company (for details of this program contact Wendy Finch, VP of Business Development for aQuire Training at 877-843-8374 or Wendy@aquiretraining.com ).

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