Innovation in Three Short Steps

Innovation in Small Business


To be a business leader, modern companies need and expect leadership that can deliver high quality results consistently. A significant part of such leadership can be found not at your feet but on the horizon.

With the speed of technology if you have your head down, by the time you focus on the next Big Idea its history. Leaders get our front by scanning the horizon.

What is Scanning? Glad you asked. Scanning is the constant almost subconscious search over not only your sector or line of business but over many sectors and many businesses. You may be an auto body shop but occasionally look at what they’re doing in the spa business or the medical field. You may be a butcher but there is a lot you could learn from a rancher.

Frequently good ideas…no, great ideas begin in a segment of business and with a different purpose than perhaps whatever the item, process or service was originally intended to accomplish.

Jack was nimble, but he wasn’t the captain of a ship.

The size of the organization dictates how far your horizon should be. You can’t move giant corporations to change as quickly as smaller more entrepreneurial companies can. This means the bigger you are, the further your horizon should be. Take some time to make a chart. List the publications you subscribe to and at least scan every month. If they are all very much alike, stop here. Don’t read any further. Sign up for some new trade magazines. There are sites that will get them to you for free. Just do it.

Now, search this list each month and let’s put a couple of things on paper. On the same day each month mark your schedule busy. Take two to three hours to read and scan industry news and trade magazines. Clip articles, make notes of interesting events. Chart something that applies to your industry. A contractor may review the supply of timber nationwide. Once this is calculated, he may take notice of the cost of lumber as it corresponds to the timber supply. After several months a trend may be apparent. This may become a key strategic indicator that the contractor uses to predict the optimal time to purchase lumber supplies.

That’s just one small example of the value to be found when you take a moment to scan the environment for opportunities.

By  Brandon   Babcock