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The Next Great Wave Of Innovation - Succeeding Through Turmoil

Tuesday, June 01, 2010   By Mike Reddy


How do you see change - as a threat or an opportunity?

Our industries, our society and even our planet are in a state of flux as we struggle to come to terms with turbulent economies, dwindling resources and a changing climate. As a business coach, I enjoyed The Sixth Wave, a book on business and innovation, authors Moody and Nogrady predict that we are on the cusp of the next great wave of change for the future. They also demonstrate that periods of change in history have always been the time when the greatest opportunities exist for the introduction of new technologies, new products and services, and for inspired ideas about whole new ways of doing things.

If you see change as a threat, you’re taking a “glass-half empty” perspective. You probably say, “I can’t keep up with this constant technological innovation. There’s something new to learn every week. It’s like I never left high school!” You’ll be annoyed whenever there’s a new trend in management. You’ll wince whenever you hear of competitors introducing new business processes. You’ll see change as the slings and arrows of business misfortune.
On the other hand, if you see change as an opportunity, you’re taking a “glass-half full” perspective. You are likely to think, “Every time there’s a change, new niches open up for me.” You know that some of your competitors will be slow to adapt and you’ll be the first to step in and relieve them of a few customers. You’ll say to yourself, “I’m a small business. I have a small, flexible and effective team. Adaptability is my middle name. We’re the can-do people!”

As a business coach I often point out to small businesses that larger competitors need to look ahead a year or more, whereas small businesses are able to change focus much more quickly. If you’re a manufacturer, you have smaller production runs, so you can customise to suit the needs of particular customers. Customers can reach you much more easily than they can a CEO of a large corporation - you’re responsive.

You look ahead with anticipation, not with anxiety. You think, “Well, some of my products are nearing the end of their life cycle. What’s the next big thing? How can I surprise and delight my loyal customers with something that they don’t even realise they want?”

If you take this attitude, business will become more of a game than a chore. You’ll feel freer to think creatively. And you’ll try to communicate this attitude to your team. You’ll do so with a frank and open management style, because honesty is the best way to help people manage change. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest impediments to change in the workplace.

You can also get people to feel positive about change by empowering your workforce. Reward people who have good and innovative ideas and let them have a say in implementing them. Offer both praise and monetary rewards for innovation.

So, in this time of transformation, stay alert and keep well informed. Look out for the winds of change. Seek advice. A Business Diagnostic and Performance Review with your Shape Your Business coach might be a good way to help you scan the external environment for changes in the industry that could sooner or later have an impact on your business, as well as analyse the internal operational strengths and weaknesses of your business as part of the process. Yes, it may mean major change for your business, but the way to look at that change is to see it as the opportunity for growth and improvement.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.