Web Exclusive: How innovation leads to growth


October 9, 2017

Developing a process for innovation can help businesses get ahead of the curve, says Robert Tucker, president of Innovation Resource Consulting Group, a global research and executive development firm that helps companies use innovation to drive growth. Recognized throughout the world as a pioneer in the field of innovation, he explains the tools, skills and mindset needed to embrace change and discover opportunity. Tucker will present “Driving Growth Through Innovation” at Wednesday’s general session of the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) 2017 Technology Summit. Following are excerpts from answers to questions Pest Management Professional asked regarding his presentation.

Robert Tucker

Robert Tucker

Companies hamper their own growth by not embracing change fast enough, and not abandoning practices that used to work but don’t anymore. It’s human nature, right? But we have to assault our assumptions or somebody will do it for us. Because of emerging technology, customer needs are changing exponentially no matter what industry you’re talking about. Offering the same value proposition, the same offerings and options and solutions as you did yesterday can be harmful or fatal. Just look at Blackberry, Blockbuster, Nokia and so many other examples.

In many sectors, it’s the small independent businesses that are most vulnerable to the national chains, and to Amazon, which seems intent on moving into every sector. But underlying these issues, no matter what your product or service, your customers likely have alternate ways of solving their problem that they didn’t used to have. We’re seeing the implications of this across the board: in the grocery industry, in community banking and credit unions, in wholesale-distribution, and just look at what’s happening to retail. Yet the independent, locally-owned businesses in pest management or any other industry have unique advantages, but only if they understand what they are and exploit those advantages.

It’s the ability to outthink and out-innovate the other players big or small by increasing what I call your change clock speed. And by the way, if you’re competing against a chain, realize that they’ve got to go through a thousand hoops to get even the smallest change approved. The local operator can listen to customer requests and make changes much more rapidly. It’s funny, when I work with the big companies they say, “Aha, those small companies have all the advantages. They don’t have to put up with the bureaucracy, they can innovate much more easily.” And when the smaller operators are honest with you, they feel outgunned by the big boys. My point is that you’ve got to eliminate the reasons for not innovating, however big or small your company is, and go with your strengths.

The need to change is becoming more obvious, whether that’s a demographic change, like the millennials, or a regulatory change or a technological change, such as social media and the need to master SEO. Look how fast the Yellow Pages became irrelevant; today customers find you on the internet, or they don’t find you at all.

Small businesses develop a basic strategy for achieving ongoing innovation by setting up more frequent strategic planning sessions, bringing in outside voices to the discussion, and setting stretch goals. What BHAGs [big, hairy, audacious goals] do you want to achieve this year? What are customers’ “unarticulated needs” – things they don’t bother to ask about because they assume you could never provide them? Also, what do you expect from your people in terms of their participating in the innovation process? How do you reward people who come forward with ideas that can save the company money, or increase customer satisfaction? You’ll get the behavior that you reward, and if you punish failed attempts you’ll get risk-adverse behavior every time.

If the leader has the attitude that “good enough never is” and that “there’s got to be a better way” to do just about anything, then even your accounts payable person, your loading dock workers, and your support staff will get into the act.


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