Innovation is the key to economic success

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LONDON — Last week I went to the Quebec Annual Lecture in London. A contemporary of mine from Montreal was speaking: Pierre Beaudoin, CEO of Bombardier.

He talked about aeroplanes and trains, and the UK and Canada. But you could tell what he really wanted to talk about was innovation. He’d recently read the World Economic Forum (WEF) report on Global Competitiveness.

Published just a few weeks ago, the annual report is ostensibly about the comparative competitiveness of countries. However, they say the two key measures that are hallmarks of the most competitive nations are:

1. Business sophistication, and
2. Innovation

For business sophistication the description is simple:

“Business sophistication concerns two elements that are intricately linked: the quality of a country’s overall business network and the quality of individual firms’ operations and strategies.”

The second, innovation, has become the basis of the whole of this year’s report that M. Beaudoin was so interested in.

The WEF says that innovation is: “the ability of economies to create new value-added products, processes, and business models…”

So ahead of planes, trains and (yes, they’re talking about) automobiles, what CEOs are thinking about is ‘how do we stay ahead?’

The WEF see close connections between countries and their industry:

“Going forward, this means that the traditional distinction between countries being “developed” or “developing” will becomes less relevant and will instead differentiate among countries based on whether they are “innovation rich” or “innovation poor”…”

We find that businesses are interested in innovation. How to encourage it? How to support it? How to ensure it happens at all?

Clearly we need to know that innovation is about more than just being creative. It is about finding new ways of delivering business solutions, more effectively.

As change management consultants we find ourselves sitting at the centre of the issue. We are asked: ‘How can we make changes to our business more quickly and effectively?’WEF Competitive Ranking 2013

The presence and strength of an Innovative Culture is one of the 8 dimensions of our business diagnostic tool, the Change Index. It’s an area that research continually reinforces as being central to a business’ ability to change.

How you manage change in a company is key to success. Because all sectors are being forced to adapt to change at an ever increasing rate.

With the Change Index we can actually tell you how good you are at innovation. We can show you where it is strongest in the business, and we can recommend what you can do about it.

And that’s only part of the process of assessing an organisation’s change capability. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for our processes and consulting.

We know that we can help organisations to address their innovation issues, simply and effectively.

And so what we found really interesting in what Bombardier talked about – and what so many other organisations fear – is that innovation is becoming a global measure of success. It’s long been held that the most innovative companies are the most likely to succeed. But now it’s not just companies, but countries. And now many are left wondering what innovation means and how to get more of it.

We are pleased to say that we have the answers to some of those questions.

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