The American Marketing Association recently surveyed 500 CEOs and asked them “What do you need to do to survive in the next five years?” Over 80% of those surveyed said that creativity and vision were most important to their companies’ survival. They were then asked to rate their company’s effectiveness on how well they were embracing creativity and innovation. Over 80% said their company was not doing a good enough job in prioritizing creativity and innovation. Another survey was done by IBM where they surveyed 1500 business executives, asking how well their company was prepared to handle the highly volatile economic situations and changes that were happening in their markets. Less than half of the respondents believed they were prepared and able to handle the volatile and changing economic environment. More than 60% believed that innovation and creativity were the keys to managing through uncertainty and massive shifts such as economic downturns, new government regulations, and rapidly changing customer preferences. If innovation and creativity are absolutely critical to a business’ survival, what are you and your company doing to embrace and encourage creativity and innovation?
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. All businesses need to embrace creativity and innovative thinking. A great example is one of our clients who owns an auto glass repair shop. The owner had been looking at the advanced driver assist systems. These systems rely on sensors built into the windshields, and other key locations around the vehicles. These sensors help drivers by alerting you when you are drifting out of your lane, initiating automatic breaking when you are in danger of a collision, assisting with parallel parking, and other features. When this new technology first started appearing in new vehicles, the service departments of automobile dealers were the only places you could get the systems programmed. As with almost all technology, other companies started copying it and making more versions that were available to a much broader user base, and that is what happened with the advanced driver assist systems. Our client had been studying this, doing research, and had identified which system he would purchase, should the time come. He felt that time would be several months, if not years, in the future, but then he received a letter from State Farm Insurance saying they would no longer refer insurance claims to automotive glass repair shops that did not have the reprogramming technology.
Our client was able to quickly purchase the technology. He was able to implement it in his shop and they were up and running within weeks. The only reason he was able to react so quickly was because he was future thinking. He had been innovative in looking at what was possibly coming in the future; he was prepared because he was creative and innovative.
It’s OK to not like change. Not many of us enjoy it. But change is the one constant in business today. If a business is to survive in today’s rapidly changing environment, the leaders must be looking to the future and anticipating the “what ifs”. Awareness of what is happening in your industry, doing research, and preparing now for what may happen in the future are key to survival. This awareness requires more involvement than just the senior executives. The most successful companies encourage this type of thinking throughout every area, every department, all the way down to the front lines of the people who are dealing directly with customers.
Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
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