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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in innovation (24)


The sustainable opportunity

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How saving the planet can help your business

The profit motive is not flavor of the month. It’s blamed for a lot of things, not least environmental degradation.

Business should be rightly worried about it. Public concern about the environment is growing, not receding. Business can resist the trend, but it is a market reality. What happens if we embrace it?

The word sustainability has been around for a while. It may have been hijacked by the climate change debate, but it dates to the 13th century and derives from the French word sustenir, meaning to endure.

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Product innovation: finding better ideas

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Evolution versus revolution

The trouble is, innovation is now a management buzzword. That makes us think innovation is somehow “new” and therefore potentially revolutionary.

In reality it’s more like evolution. It’s going on all the time. In business, you can spend a lot of time looking for an innovative breakthrough while your competitors are constantly evolving.

Innovation is a lot closer to outmoded terms like “product development”. Not quite as exciting, I admit, but that’s a similar process that achieves the same outcome: it makes things better and more marketable.

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Diversity: It's not just about race and gender

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What about smart and dumb? 

The case for more diversity in management is well-researched. Teams that encourage minority opinions regularly make better decisions than those with a narrow view.

That should be no surprise. Anyone who has stress-tested a “great idea” knows it will be more robust if it’s intensely critiqued. While technical ability and relevant knowledge play a big part in effective management, its openness and enquiry that fine-tune successful decisions.

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Management theories: yours or theirs?

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Has management advice actually made any progress?

Doesn’t seem so. Prominent business leaders, management gurus, and leading academics – all three have a history of failure.

It can happen anywhere, anytime. I worked for three years in Singapore in the 1980s. Each year someone was designated “Businessman of the Year”. All three nominees suffered ignominious reversals before I had left, including gaol time.

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Failure: Do it cheaply and do it less often

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Let the “NO” case be heard

How hard is it to temper enthusiasm? Most business advice these days is about how to rev it up, not tone it down. Try standing up at the end of a inspiring and motivating off-site and telling everyone why the amazing new strategy won’t work.

Not a good look.

Yet there seems to be no slowdown in business failures, either at the firm level or the product level. In some ways there seems to be more. The pace of change puts on pressure for more innovation, not less — and more rapid innovation at that. There’s even less time to get it right.

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