If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that innovation is not only critical to helping companies pivot to align with the pandemic induced new reality, it is also central to helping companies thrive. At the onset of the pandemic, many companies, quickly disrupted their own business models to directly serve the needs of their communities, healthcare workers, hospitals, and most importantly COVID patients. But there was also a whole host of other sectors—from food to finance, from manufacturing to mental health—that innovated to create new ways of selling and establish brand-new business models.
It is important to understand that “innovation” doesn’t mean the same thing to all companies. For some it is internally focused and involves upgrades to existing products. For others, it means leveraging their organization’s capabilities in new ways. However, organizations interested in true transformation scan the external environment for disruptive innovation that can lead to new business models, new capabilities, and growth into new markets.
How then should your company decide where it falls on the spectrum outlined above? Although most companies would say they are not at the right place on the spectrum, the reality is that the best mix of inside-out and outside-in activity will be different for every enterprise. Finding the sweet spot should reflect the current and future business outlook for your sector, how much disruption your corporate culture will embrace, and whether there are enough folks in your organization with an entrepreneurial mindset to make the pursuit of innovation a reality.