INNOVATION is hard to measure and hard to manage

When revenues and earnings decline during a recession, executives often conclude that their innovation efforts just aren’t worth it.

Maybe innovation isn’t so important after all, they think.

The contrary view, of course, is that innovation is both a vaccine against market slowdowns and an elixir that rejuvenates growth.

Imagine how much better off General Motors might be today if the company had matched the pace of innovation set by Honda or Toyota. Imagine how much worse off Apple would be had it not created the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone.

In talking with executives about innovation, we often point to highly branded industry as a model.

In our series “6 questions to a CEO”, SONY Czech Republic’s Country Manager, Mr. Daniel Svoboda

shared with Anderson Willinger, executive search experts, about his view on brands

and innovation.

How innovation should be managed in these unpredictable days?

While many people find current environment unsettling I am convinced that it is full of opportunities for most businesses. Managers need to make a conscious choice in embracing changes this economical phase brings. Companies that find themselves under pressure will understandably first review their cost base and investment plans taking defensive steps to secure their bottom line. Those that will find the courage to go beyond these will find new business opportunities that will not only help them survive in the short term will put them ahead of their competitors when the recovery comes. Innovation therefore remains vital to the long term success of any business.

Do you recommend companies to consider their Innovation Units/Centers as Profit Centers (defined by brands, product lines, customer segments, and/or geographic regions)?

To me this is a question of clearly defining objectives, their measurement and evaluation which must be linked to business result. In my experience it is vital to connect innovation with result as closely as possible. After all most innovations wholesale jerseys China in businesses are aimed at delivering measurable improvements to the bottom line through driving revenue, profit or cost reductions. Whether unit is profit or cost centre should mostly be decided on technical or tax/legal aspect.

Where and how to find a balance between the short-term profitability/cost reduction and the innovation expenses and their long-term benefits?

One way I am approaching this dilemma is by asking: If we take this cost out of business today, how big negative impact it is it going to have on our capacity to grow when recovery comes? How quickly will we be able to build that capability again? On investment and development side cheap nfl jerseys resources should focus on delivering strategic advantage for recovery phase of the economy.

Are there any golden rules we should never forget when we innovate products and services?

Benchmark from customer perspective and vigorously measure result. If impact can’t be measured or at least convincingly estimated there is usually no point in investing resources. This sounds trivial but it is surprising how often basic common sense is lost under day to day pressure.

How to keep brand passion and emotional link to a premium brand while competition offers much cheaper technically solid product?

Customers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and comfortable with technology today. They are also looking beyond product functionality more and more. They are concerned about what using particular product or brand says about them, where they shop for it and what shopping experience they will have while making the purchase. As technology becomes widely accessible to big majority of consumers these considerations grow in importance. For product to succeed in the market place this dynamics must be considered from product development stage, through product marketing to shopping experience. All points at which consumer touches the brand/product form customer relationship with the brand – from web site, brochures, through retail environment, customer support hotline and after cheap jerseys sales service. Ensuring integrity throughout this chain and making sure that it is in line with core product and brand values is key to building long term relationship with customers. This is very difficult thing to achieve and can’t be substituted by any amount spend in media advertising. If we make our customers happy, they will make us successful.

What are the crucial skills you would always require on your Strategic Marketing and Innovation Director?

Open and curious mind, team leadership and down to Earth focus on delivering business result.

PROCTER & GAMBLE innovation story

Becoming the CEO of P&G in June, Lafley realized that creativity was a missing ingredient in the company’s innovation strategy. In his opinion P&G lacked emotional experience for consumers and their passion for brands. cheap jerseys Lafley thus set out to shake up the culture by creativity and proclaimed that P&G´s ambition is to become a top design company as part of becoming the innovation leader in its industry.

Lafley created P&G´s first global design division, which he had directly under its commands. The company hired about 150 innovators and strategic thinkers. Innovation centers around the world were established, where new ways of listening, to learning, visualizing and prototyping were taught. Managers world! started to think about their creative problems solving.

Under Lafley, P&G´s organic growth doubled the average for the cheap mlb jerseys categories in which it competes. Its cultural transformation has produced such positive results that Chief Executive Magazine named Lafley CEO of the Year in 2006.

  SUMMARY The innovation is essential to success. When searching for a new manager, the Sofia problem is that it takes both halves of a manager’s brain to make the innovation happen. For steering innovation investments toward the most promising areas you would need a manager having a strong rational, analytic left brain part, but be aware that the business might need more creativity to generate ideas. A potential candidate should also have a developed imaginative, holistic right brain part, which enables innovations to happen. Always bear in mind that both of the parts are important.

The article was prepared by Anderson Willinger, executive search experts.

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