Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2017 Contents MAY 18 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
ENTREPRENOMICS | BG21
Innovate or disintegrate
Every organisation---not just business---needs
one core competence: innovation.
Peter F Drucker
What do these compa-
nies have in common:
Research in Motion
al Motors, IBM and
Kodak? They were
once dominant players in their market space.
What do these companies: Samsung, Toyota,
Apple and Canon all have in common? They
moved into leadership positions in their re-
Final question, what do Uber, Airbnb and
Tesla have in common? They are newcomers
to their market spaces and are threatening es-
tablished companies and changing the industry
The common theme in all three questions
is the lack of success in innovation.
Ford got to the top through a new manufac-
turing process, Airbnb is changing the hotel
industry by creating a platform for outsiders of
the industry to list their homes for short stays.
There is some debate about how innovative
Some say we are creative people and there-
fore innovative. But creativity and innovative-
ness are different concepts. The former is in
the mind and the latter is application of what's
in the mind.
Cariri calls it "creativity being implement-
ed." But it's more than that, it must create value
for both the customer and the company.
Innovation also can be sustainable or dis-
ruptive. Sustainable innovation is more evolu-
tionary, while the latter is more revolutionary.
Innovation can be either for a product, ser-
vice, or process. In their book titled, Innova-
tor's DNA, Clay Christensen, et al identified
four types of innovators:
1. start-up entrepreneurs,
2. corporate entrepreneurs (who work for
large companies and launch new ventures),
3. product innovators (who create new prod-
4. process innovators (create new ways of
However, in T&T, it seems we are not doing
the things to become more innovative. We have
a poor ranking of #89 in the Global Competi-
tiveness Report (2015/6) and part of the reason
is our weak showing in innovativeness. But this
might change as one institution is working to
foster more innovation.
Dr Erik W Hallgren from the Danish Techno-
logical Institute presented the iGAP platform
for innovation for entrepreneurs recently at
Cariri's CED Freeport facility.
The purpose of this initiative is to deal with
the weak innovative practices of the SME sec-
tor and so strengthen their competitiveness
through interaction with other members of the
eco-system, especially those that are knowl-
So, how do you get your SME to become
There is a process you need to follow to get
innovativeness going in your organisation.
Innovative firms must have an environment
that fosters ideas to market. Companies that
have leaders who have an innovative and en-
trepreneurial approach to doing business will
launch more successful initiatives. The role of
the entrepreneurial leader is to mobilise the
collective intelligence of the organisation.
This is more difficult if the company is large
and bureaucratic and this could explain why
smaller firms generally introduce more inno-
Without ideas, there will be no innovation,
however, not all ideas will lead to innovative
products and services. As Thomas Edison said,
"If you want to have a great idea, have many
So where do ideas come from?
They come from a mind that tries to explore,
discover, associate and enjoys puzzlement.
A mind that questions assumptions and
traditions. They can come from employees
who might ponder why some customers ask
for something we don't have a solution for?
In management meetings, the entrepreneurial
leader would note these ideas and look to gather
as much as possible. They are rough gems and
need further work to test them out.
Some ideas are just that, ideas and not busi-
ness ideas. Ideas with some commercial po-
tential needs the resources and commitment
to move it forward.
Sometimes an organisation needs to start
with a funnel approach-narrow down from
many to one or two ideas to take forward. So
how do you test an idea? The short answer is
you need a team of internals and maybe some
externals to determine if further commitment
Some ideas may need lab work as it may
require testing to find out its shelf life. Some
may need testing to gauge customer acceptance
in-house or in the market place. This is the
cheapest way to put your idea to test, rather
than chalk up huge losses only to find out your
idea was just a darling of the organisation which
no one wanted.
After some testing and this could take weeks
or months, the product is almost ready to face
the real world with all the variables that it needs
to deal with. Some would have been anticipated
and some may not.
This is possibly the most costly and riskiest
step. Your secret idea is now out in the open
and your organisation has invested a lot. Your
team to launch the product for an SME will
be small but will have certain competencies:
sales and marketing skills, costing knowledge,
packaging insight, etc.
However, some skills will have to be out-
sourced; planning social media strategy and
product development. In a linked world of the
internet, these services can be foreign.
If it is a service innovation, sometimes
this can be developed in-house. If you have
a training company would might want to test
the concept with an existing client and then
roll it out. You might want to consider what
makes your training workshop unique and
what supporting product (materials) like polo
shirts for the facilitators, personalised name
tags and specially designed room to enhance
the servicescape, which will have on making
it a differentiated offering.
At this stage you are ready to roll out. Things
seldom go as planned, the world is full of un-
known variables, however. This is learning time
for the organisation.
Is the sales team reporting all that is hap-
Are the competitors acting to take away
sales or increasing their advertising or low-
If it is a training workshop, are facilitators
achieving the outcomes? Or you might find
that feedback from customers are quite un-
expected. They wanted a food product with
much more pepper or your trade customers
is not so cooperative and not giving you the
shelf space to gain visibility.
Another unexpected could be that there
are opportunities for service expansion. Af-
ter your new workshop, you may have found
out that participants needed more information
on a specialised area when they filled out the
Finally, a word of caution, don't expect your
innovation to be a big hit instantly. Seldom
new things catch on this fast. The trick is to
understand the readiness-to-buy model.
At the early stages the first adopters and
innovators will buy first, despite some lim-
itation of the product. Then you can expect
the majority and late buyers to jump in after.
Then it is time to start looking for the next
big thing to replace your now old innovation.
Continue to innovate or disintegrate.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME & family
business adviser. He can be contacted
via email@example.com or or
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