The huge impact on businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to come up with other revenue-raising ways.
This has sparked a ‘revolution in innovation’ as businesses either deliver their products or services differently or pivot to something completely new.
But businesses don’t have to wait for the next ‘big shock’ to find out whether they have the innovative nous to survive. Adopting a management system now can ensure that moving over to new business practices becomes a seamless process.
The link between business management systems is a strong bond. ISO systems are not just about continual improvement, they are also inherently linked to innovation. And in the current- and post-COVID economy, that’s something we’re going to need more than a small slice of.
Running a business along ISO management system lines means you’re looking for improvement by involving a whole range of stakeholders, from every employee to your clients, customers, suppliers and any other key person or group you’ve identified. You’re always after their views; you’re always gathering market information; you’re a very ‘switched on’ company. You marshal your resources in a way which makes you able to look for improvement and innovation at every level.
Let’s look at the figures: the failure of new products is well documented. For example, the retail and grocery sector sees an 85% failure of new products in the first year. The computer games industry sees around 50% of its sales generated by only 10% of releases.
The failure rate in the music industry is spectacular, with approximately 80-90% of new releases being duds. In the online magazine publishing industry, a massive 80% of new publications fail to last more than 12 issues, and book publishing is a notoriously difficult nut to crack where only a tiny proportion of new releases generate any kind of profit.
Genuine business improvements and new ideas as a result of them are actually very difficult to come across. Just look at confectionary manufacturers and the way they incessantly bring out bigger/smaller/special edition versions of 60-year-old snacks. This tired old formula has now become the template of product and service development in industries right across the board. There is, of course, one fundamental flaw with this process: the vast majority of things created by it fail.
But business improvement and innovation is so important because we are facing a number of key challenges. Globalisation, technological and knowledge revolutions, cultural debate and climate change are issues that face us all at some level. They mean that as well as wanting to improve and innovate in order to improve a process or product and add value, we also have to improve and innovate because there is an overwhelming imperative to do so.
The knowledge-driven economy brings new challenges for business. Markets are becoming more global with new competitors, product lifecycles are shortening, customers are more demanding and the complexity of technology is increasing.
So while the knowledge economy represents new opportunities, certain actions are needed to support and take advantage of these developments.
In the knowledge-driven economy, improvement and innovation have become central to achievement in the business world. With this growth in importance, organisations large and small have begun to re-evaluate their products, their services, even their corporate culture in the attempt to maintain their competitiveness in the global markets of today. The more forward-thinking organisations have recognised that only through such root and branch reform can they hope to survive in the face of increasing competition.
This is why the use of ISOs is so important. A successful business today understands the value of both improvement and innovation, and it knows that while these terms may have different meanings, they are equally critical for long-term business success. Organisations that embrace both methods of increasing business value are the ones that will not only survive, but thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.
Improvements are small, incremental changes that make a business’s goods or services better in some way, whether by reducing cost, increasing value, improving safety, or enhancing quality or satisfaction. They’re typically low-cost, low-risk ideas that can be implemented by the people doing the work all day, every day. Improvements start with examining a current process and asking the question: “How can I do this better?”
The trick is to couple this with innovation, which starts with the status quo and asks: “How can I do this in a whole new way, to achieve significantly better results?” Innovative ideas are ground-breaking, far-reaching, significant changes to business processes that serve the purpose of improving the organisation in wide swathes. But you have to have your business processes functioning properly in the first place.
Food for thought before the next economic shock rumbles inevitably towards us.
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