5 questions with Innovation Resource’s Robert Tucker

By |  November 21, 2017

Robert Tucker is 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. We asked Tucker, who will present “Driving Growth Through Innovation” on Nov. 29 at the NPMA Technology Summit, the following five questions:

Photo: Robert Tucker

1. How do companies hamper their own growth?

By not embracing change fast enough, and 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 and so many other examples.

2. Why does having a process in place ensure success?

Because innovation is really not a choice, it’s become a necessity. Simon Spencer, who was the first innovation champion at [automotive parts supplier] BorgWarner, once told me that at one point [senior management] looked around and “saw that they had a process for everything else around here, why not for innovation?” So they implemented one, which I’ll be talking about in my keynote.

3. How does the business operator keep from being overwhelmed and find the time to work on future projects at the same time?

My firm regularly surveys managers of small and large businesses alike. I can tell you that “lack of time” is invariably one of the top barriers to innovation that comes up. I counsel my clients to prioritize ruthlessly, learn to say no to things that drain your time, and remind yourself to work on the business more, and in the business less.

4. How can small businesses develop a basic strategy for achieving ongoing innovation?

Set up more-frequent strategic planning sessions, bring in outside voices to the discussion, and set 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?

5. How can a small business translate the strategy into action?

If you stand up at your next all-company meeting and simply say, “we want your ideas,” you may actually get some. But then if you don’t have a submission process, if it isn’t easy to participate, if there isn’t a selection process in place to sort through and prioritize ideas and get back to people who submit, then you really don’t have an innovation process.

You can reach Managing Editor Diane Sofranec at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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