Monday, December 12, 2011

Innovation Momentum

I believe it is the responsibility of public relations counselors to focus their clients on innovation, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as the introduction of something new. Without innovation, there is no growth and there is no future.

This is the time of year, of course, when many companies are finalizing their plans for 2012 and are igniting innovations which have been under development for many months. Public relations’ role is not only to communicate these innovations to target audiences, but also to guide clients to keep the innovative process moving forward in the new year. I call it “innovation momentum,” and it needs to be sustained if a company is to maximize its ROI and produce new revenue streams.

“People tend to see innovation strictly in terms of revolutionary, breakthrough products,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, UK, in PwC’s 14th Annual Global CEO Study. “That’s fine,” he added. “But most innovations are the result of steady, continuous improvement.”

The innovative process needs to touch every dimension of the company, from marketing and finance to human resources and customer engagement. All processes in the aforementioned areas need to be examined both globally and locally. For example, says Louis Camilleri, chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International: “Innovation goes way beyond just the products. It’s the way you market the product, the way you sell the product, and the whole aspect of customer engagement.”

Today, it is particularly the consumer product companies that are putting customers at the center of innovation, involving them in product design and service development. Technology (i.e., mobile phones and social media) is accommodating this opportunity But other stakeholders need to be taken into the innovation fold as well.

The study points out that 79% of the CEOs in the 1200 companies surveyed believe innovation drives efficiencies and leads to competitive advantage. A similarly high percentage (78%) believes that innovation also delivers higher revenues.

The foundation for all of this to happen is the right culture for innovation to thrive. I would describe that as one where ideas can be expressed freely to people on every level, mistakes are tolerated, logical strategies are tried, research and development is funded, reasonable risk taking is encouraged, partnerships are valued and individuals are rewarded for their achievements.

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Anonymous Todd Murphy said...

Ken: We love innovation and this post should be, if not a reminder, a wake up call to many. If you are not innovating for your client or customer, somebody else will.

One key element I didn't see in your post is that of measuring your outcomes. Knowing what key metrics will provide the feedback you need to know whether or not your innovation is leading you in the right direction is critical. For example, if earned media exposure is one anticipated outcome, are you effectively tracking and measuring that exposure. That's the world I live in, but there are hundreds of other metrics organizations could look at to help with that feedback loop. Thanks for the post.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:12:00 AM  

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