Innovation is not an easy word in business
INNOVATION is difficult. There is nothing easy about it. Yet small and medium enterprises rely on innovation and progression to survive.
Speaking at the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce breakfast recently Jack Delosa of The Entourage said business owners today are less inclined to be the next Bill Gates.
"It is so much more about doing something I enjoy,'' he said, "build something that contributes and still have a lifestyle around me.
"Disruption should not be the goal, it should be the opportunity to do something great.
"There is a difference between invention and innovation. It's when the rubber hits the road and something changes.''
Mr Delosa is founder and CEO of The Entourage, Australia's largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs.
As such, he welcomes the new way people are looking at start-up businesses.
"I think business is always just a reflection of what's going on with us a human beings,'' he said. "These days it's so much more about wanting to do something they enjoy and wanting to do something meaningful.''
Mr Delosa said innovation was a buzz word in the business world at the moment.
"Not like the win-lose and greed is good philosophies of 30 years ago.
"Doing great deeds is as noble as building a billion-dollar company.
"What is innovation? I honestly think it's doing things or building new things with the customer in mind,'' he said.
"But that's not reserved to the likes of Uber or Airbnb or Facebook.
"So you're a local real estate agent. How do you better serve your audience and how do you get people's attention? That's innovation.''
Mr Delosa said just because an idea fails the first time doesn't mean we should give up on it.
"History shows that human beings are resistant to change,'' he said.
"Innovation is uncomfortable and you have to go out of your comfort levels to create something great.
"What really hits home? If we are doing a new project and everything seems to be going really well, and it feels like we are on the right track ... then we need to sit back and ask what's going wrong.
"When a project is recalcitrant, when you struggle, sometimes for years ... we know we are doing the right thing.
"One of the fundamentals of innovation is to ask how do I do something differently?
"It's not great the first time ... the Wright brothers' first plane went 12metres.
"Flying up here from Sydney is a long way from those two brothers in a paddock 100 years ago.''
Yet in 1911 the early airplanes were looked upon as being a novelty. And in 1943 the president of IBM envisaged a world market for maybe five computers.
"There is incredible benefit in allowing SMEs to grow,' Mr Delosa said. "It's about asking how do you better serve, create a workplace where people like to spend their time and lead more meaningful lives.''
Mr Delosa said it was better to be disrupted by your business than someone else.
Kodak was the first to invent the digital camera yet considered it would cannibalise their core product of film.
"Sometimes in order to innovate there will not be a lot of data to support that idea. That's why it's innovative.
"Too often the institutionalised feeling takes place. We've always done it that way.
"The training of managers needs to identify how not to squash ideas.
"If it cuts out innovation, those people and ideas end up somewhere else.''
Mr Delosa said it was essential for business to ask: What's our vision, why do we exist.
"What is the contribution we make, the difference we make.
"Follow you customer buyer decisions. Why do you exist above financial gain.
"Determine the values that drive attitude.
"Then you can recruit people who align with those intangibles.''