Being innovative in today’s environment means taking
adverse conditions and finding ways to use their momentum to your
advantage, harnessing their movement and direction to fuel your growth.
Imagine if you could take all the frustration and time spent coping
with and literally harness it to propel you to a new level of
performance. Wouldn’t that be nice? That’s what innovation can do for
you. But, it requires an intentional shift in mindset and a working
knowledge of some critical tactics.
The change in attitude I am talking about requires you to shift your
perspective from viewing disruption as the intrusion it is to seeing it
as a new set of circumstances that usually carries opportunity within.
It means you have to pull back on your natural and all-too-human
inclination to be bothered by that which is interfering with your
intentions. Instead you need to develop a gut response to apply your
acumen and identify the new factors that can work to your advantage.
It’s a discipline that flies against prevailing attitudes and
day-to-day proclivities. But, once mastered the payoff is a
significant, a powerful tactic that propels your business forward
instead of stalling you out or putting you in reverse.
For an example let’s look at a major force of disruption, your customers facing their own challenges
from a stymied economy.
A tough economy impacts your clients just as it impacts you. Many
leaders don’t pay attention to this. Instead when change hits and the
status quo is threatened they get so focused on their own survival that
they miss the very key to making it through: their own clients.
Your customers have their own businesses to run. Many have demanding,
difficult finances; i.e., cash flow is a problem. As a result they may
be inspecting costs more thoroughly, aggressively shaving expenses
where they can, becoming increasingly interested in where they can
commoditize and changing their buying habits accordingly, learning how
to do things for themselves they used to pay for, and demanding more
from the people who serve them whenever possible.
Further, due to the stress created by this turmoil, some customers are
making poor or short-sighted decisions, becoming difficult to
serve. They slash services to save money and step free of trusted
relationships. It’s a set of moves motivated by fear. Fear gets you
going but it does not sustain a long term effort. As a result these
imprudent tactics hamstring them after initially providing relief.
Here are five ways you can turn their turmoil to advantage:
a) If customers are inspecting their costs more
closely, you can provide services that help them make sound decisions
on how best to control costs.
b) If your clients are dramatically and forcefully
cutting expenses, you can help provide tools (checklists, white papers,
templates) that will help them optimize their overhead.
c) If patrons want to evaluate and switch based on
price alone, you can help them choose value-based or performance-based
options that lead to the greatest advantage for them.
d) If they are demanding more from you, you can step
toward them, get to know them better, and offer to customize your
e) If your customers are making short-sighted
decisions, you can educate them and help them weigh the costs,
improving the quality of their choices.
In each case you take the very behavior that is causing stress and
engage it by designing tools that embrace your customers’ challenges
and help them to deal effectively with the difficulties.
As they do better, so will you. Their success is your priority.
Respond to their trials by helping them through successfully.
The very force that is disrupting your business may be crying for an
innovation that will take you through a positive inflection point.
The tactic of turning turmoil to advantage is a basic innovation move.
It meets disruption with a curiosity to uncover and take advantage of
any and every opportunity it presents.