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ROI Re-examined

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Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) is a solid business principle that helps guide corporate decisioning. However for purposes of this blog post I want you to think of ROI as return on imagination, ideas and innovation. It is the return on innovation that will allow companies to maintain their competitive edge and create sustainable growth. Peter Drucker said, “An established company which, in an age demanding innovation, is not able to innovate, is doomed to decline and extinction.”

Drucker’s quote mirrors my sentiments exactly…I have seen too many companies forget about the need for, and power of innovation (more classically referred to as R&D). Without a dedicated focus on innovation it is only a matter of time until a business cannot attract or retain talent, suffers from obsolescence due to the innovation of others and watches their brand fall into decline.

Does you company suffer from the lack of innovation or does it reap the many benefits of innovation? The answer can likely be found by examining your company’s organization chart…Who is in charge of innovation management? If you don’t have a dedicated C-suite position focused on innovation you might really want to reevaluate your direction. While I’m not typically a fan of “title inflation” I have rarely witnessed a company with a chief strategy officer, chief innovation officer, chief imagination officer, chief idea officer, chief thinking officer, etc. who are not experience sustainable growth and increases in brand equity. It is these companies who have a positive culture and who are attracting and retaining the best talent.

Innovation is not the same thing as process engineering. Implementing Six Sigma or other process engineering programs to achieve short-term incremental gains in existing processes is not the same thing as adopting an innovation management approach which looks for long term gains in new areas which may require completely new business processes to be adopted. While both process engineering and innovation management are necessary and can and should overlap, they are not the same thing.

Simply open up any business magazine and look at the companies receiving the majority of the news and editorial coverage…They represent the best in innovative organizations. These companies realize the value received from innovation and choose to be market leaders as opposed to market lagers.

So how do you adopt an innovation management approach for your business? Begin by considering the following best practices recommendations:

1. Make innovation a full time initiative: Part time efforts yield part time results and even worse zero effort yields zero results. Externally hire or promote from within the best creative thinker and innovative strategist you can afford. Equip this individual with resources and watch your company grow. Nothing catalyzes growth and change like innovation.

2. Gain “active” leadership support: Innovation doesn’t work in isolation. It is one thing for your executive team talk the talk, but quite another to have them walk to walk. Form a “thinkubator’ facilitated by your chief innovation officer and comprised of department heads, business unit leaders and other senior executives to regularly brainstorm about innovation Great ideas come from great minds and if your leadership isn’t involved in the practice of innovation your business will suffer.

3. Get your head out of the sand: Avoid the DITWLY (Did It That Way Last Year) syndrome. It has been said that the definition of insanity is to continue doing things the same way that you always have while expecting different results. Attend trade shows, conferences, continuing education workshops and other events that expose your leadership team to the latest thinking. Hire an executive coach, bring in consultants, outsource or do whatever is necessary to drive new ideas, creative thinking and innovation.

Mike Myatt is the Chief Strategy Officer at N2growth. N2growth is a leading venture growth consultancy providing a unique array of professional services to high growth companies on a venture based business model. The rare combination of branding and corporate identity services, capital formation assistance, market research and business intelligence, sales and product engineering, leadership development and talent management, as well as marketing, advertising and public relations services make N2growth the industry leader in strategic growth consulting. More information about the company can be found at

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  • Posted On January 4, 2007
  • Published articles 283513

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