Failure to innovate has become threat to survival

Businesses have been told that a failure to innovate is now a matter of survival rather than simply a failure to obtain a competitive edge.

Speaking at an event in London Karim Derrick, product, and innovation director at Kennedys IQ warned innovation was really evolution and it was now a case of the survival of the fittest as companies looked to maximise the way in which they operated.

He made his comments at the final sessions in law firm Kennedys’ series of events to examine the issues around the delivery of innovation.

“Evolution is the earliest for of innovation,” he explained. “IT is a case of genetic accidents happen in different environments which allow survival.

“The fact is that if you do not have evolution in your business you will not survive. As we are surrounded by very difficult and serious problems, if  are not bringing everyone together  to address them we will not survive.”

The audience was told that successful innovation had to include the clients rather than simply the company looking to create the products they think their clients want or need.

“The best products are  developed with the customer – they have to be in the room,” said Richard West, partner at Kennedys and global head of liability defence.

The panel said companies needed to ensure that any working group that was charged with developing innovation did not simply contain those who were keen for change.

Karim Derrick, product, and innovation director at Kennedys IQ said the process had to include those who were deemed to be resistant to change to ensure that the result was applicable to all parts of the business.

“Innovation cannot be siloed,” he explained. “In many ways you need to run towards these chief resistance officers in your workplace. They may well be creating the tensions in the work process that are the drivers for the innovative solutions.

“Just having a  team which will sit there and say yes in the room will create something which is not fit for purpose, but will only specifically fit the needs of those in the room.”

Cunningham said: “People invited to work on these groups are all too often the enthusiastic, forward thinking, and positive members of the staff. You tend to find those who are deemed not to be open to the change, the chef resistance officers, if you like,  are not invited onto the groups.

“However, they have a real role to play, and they can often see things that others cannot, and can identify issue where the plans are too ambitious or the timetable will be difficult to achieve.

“We have to remember it is about what we want to achieve rather than how we will get there.”

West added that while the need for those who were not fully committed to the project were required the business would always find some which were totally resistant to change.

“You want the doubters in the room,” he explained. “But you will never be able to suit everyone. If you have the atheists, then you will need to work round them, but with the agnostics you need to work with them to bring them round to the idea and vision of what you are doing.

“There will be some that you will never persuade and you will have to find the way to work round them.”