It’s about a month since the Kenya Institute of Management held its CEO Summit. One thing that was clear from the discussions was that Kenyan businesses and company executives should embrace innovation to ward off fierce competition from disruptors.
The CEO Summit held under the theme “New Ways to Compete; Responding to Disruption” added much into the discussions globally on the kind of disruption that’s going on in the corporate sector.
Innovation is not an option – it is a hygiene factor for any organisation to stay in business and it should be a daily process that forms part the organisation’s DNA. Business leaders should therefore know that innovation is mandatory for the continual operations.
In order for organisations to innovate they need a sense of direction, an engagement, alignment and execution Organisations need to ask themselves if they have a plan and direction that will stimulate and build innovation.
In his address to congress on May 25th 1961, John F. Kennedy said: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space.”
Such is what is called an innovative vision, a vision that had a direction on what according to him was the best thing for his nation. It is what the British would call a big-hairy audacious goal. The plan and direction need to be put high. We all know that unless we stretch ourselves we would not be able to innovate. But this direction needs to be anchored around the customer; what would the customer want should be the real question to be asked.
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When we seek to know what the consumer wants and become customer-centric we are able to define the consumers’ problems rightly.
It is a sense of direction that defines the Blue Ocean Strategy. That once we define what our customers want, we get rid of what the customers do not need and we are able to retain and recruit new customers.
Take, for example, JamboJet. KQ realised that there is a type of customers for whom comfort is not a priority and that all that matters to them is how fast they get to their destination and how reliable the transport is.
Business leaders should also have an engagement about innovation from the whole organisation geared towards satisfying the customers wants and expectations. How committed is the culture within your organisation on innovation. This allows the organisation to align its people, personality and processes to give room for innovation.