From The Editor | July 25, 2016

Are You Tired Of Innovating?

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Sarah Nicastro

While attending ServiceMax’ Maximize conference in June, I listened to a presentation from Luke Williams, executive director of innovation and entrepreneurship and professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business, that really caught my attention. Williams was discussing what he calls “innovation fatigue,” and as he was describing it, I realized it’s likely a feeling you all have had. Innovation fatigue is essentially the feeling of being sick of being told you need to change what you’re doing and find ways to improve. Continual improvement — continual innovation — gets old, right? It does, but it is crucial to the success of your business, and according to Williams, there is no way around it.

Williams explained that innovation is what drives growth, so you simply have to have a vested interest in it. In today’s day and age, it’s getting exponentially harder to get an accurate look at what the future holds — and the rate of change that is occurring, especially with technology, is astounding. According to Williams, achieving a certain level of success breeds complacency — and if you’re only embracing incremental changes, you’re in a bad place. Innovation is the antidote. As Williams pointed out, you don’t want to spot and react to change — you want to lead it. While that can be scary, and exhausting, it’s the only real way you’ll take your business to the next level instead of simply following in the footsteps of others.

Embrace Disruptive Thinking
So how do you lead change? Williams suggests a concept of disruptive thinking, which starts with understanding where you are right now by “surfacing the clichés” — otherwise known as best practices. Think about every step of how you provide service today, and then reconsider all of it — it’s done this way, but why? What might be better? Williams says you have to “free yourself from seeing what your business is right now so you can see what it could become.” It has to feel alright to come up with out-of-the-box ideas — they don’t have to be “right,” but the freedom to do that sort of brainstorming is what will enable you to think of truly disruptive — versus incremental — change. Williams provided the example of Netflix, saying that Blockbuster laughed Netflix out of the boardroom when they presented their idea. Blockbuster was too hung up on “the way we’ve always done it” to be able to see the impact Netflix’ disruptive thinking was going to have.

Innovation is grueling, but it’s good to force yourself into it. As Williams pointed out, “problems scream for attention — therefore, they’re often the only areas getting attention. But your biggest opportunities lie in the areas most often ignored or overlooked.” Make time to uncover those opportunities rather than just addressing your biggest problems, and you could soon be leading the service industry rather than just keeping up.