Retail Leader published an article earlier this year titled, “Is Your Organization Innovation-Friendly?”, raising a point well worth exploring: while most business leaders claim that innovation is a key part of their strategy, far too few actually practice what they preach.
Just about everyone loves the idea of innovation and staying ahead of the curve, but the problem with innovative ideas is that sometimes they fail, and most people are risk-averse by nature. Many prefer to play it safe rather than taking risks on new products or strategies. And, many companies and individuals later rue that mindset.
When it comes to missing the boat on innovation, there’s likely no better example than Kodak. As a popular Mashable article titled “How Kodak Squandered Every Single Digital Opportunity It Had” explains, Kodak literally invented digital photography, yet instead of reaping the rewards from doing so, they declared bankruptcy in 2012.
In the mid-1970s when Kodak first developed digital technology, they had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in the United States. Afraid of cannibalizing their own strong hold on the film business, they were hesitant to take advantage of their innovative technology. Others such as Nikon, Sony and Canon jumped in to fill the expanding niche. What’s more, Kodak didn’t learn their lesson and were behind on other innovative trends and technology like face recognition, modern aesthetics, photo sharing, and much more.
There are countless other cases similar to Kodak’s; nevertheless, far too many businesses remain risk-averse to the point of their own detriment. Harvard Business Review recently explained that even in one global organization that considered itself to be “highly supportive of developing new technology”, 47% of its professionals who were surveyed said that if they tried new ideas, the reaction from their superiors would be “unpredictable”.
You can likely understand why we feel strongly about this topic, and we’ll end this post with the wise conclusion from Harvard Business Review’s article: “Successful innovation is never guaranteed – it always entails a certain amount of risk.” However, if employees aren’t willing to embrace innovation when appropriate, “in the long term, that could put your company at even greater risk.”