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Innovation as a Core Competency

Have you ever imagined living in the world during those crude times when there was no technology? Try to roll back the wheels of your memory to as early back a point in time as you can possibly remember. Right there; you must be seeing no smartphones, no ATM machines, no mobile banking, no fast cars, and if you are old enough; you must be seeing not even a single mobile phone or laptop computer!

A world without computers; life must be pretty difficult there. Well, jump back to the real world-the better world of ‘now’. It almost appears like there is everything that can possibly be needed. You do not have to draft a telegram to send a life-saving emergency message any more. A business does not have to go around with posters notifying clients about product changes; the internet will do that!

There is one crucial thing you might not be noticing though; behind every single great thing you see is a disguised great work. The overwhelming technologies we encounter are the product of constant innovation and progressive creativity. Someone sat down, spent time thinking, and saw that communication could be made much easier; and from that, they created a telephone.

Somebody else comes in later and sees a vast ocean of possibilities tied to the telephone technology. Then he comes up with the mobile telephone-mobile technologies-mobile services.

Some other entrepreneur looks at the mobile industry and sees profit; easy market reach, instant client feedback, and as a result, mobile money transfer services and online businesses are orchestrated. So we begin forgetting the long queues in the bank, as mobile banking takes effect.

Core competency

Most organizations that strand out have something that stands out about them. That something the organization does especially well or uniquely with relation to the competition is their core competency. This includes a combination of skills, processes, technologies, knowledge and expertise.

Every company wants to grow, and in each industry there are several players competing for the same market. What will determine who gets the biggest market share and ultimately unbeaten survival is the core competency.

Innovation

In various levels at school there is always that one right answer to the question. Everyone who cannot think to the direction of that single answer is wrong. This, in essence, is a common thinking approach that is limiting.

Business does not however work like that. Entrepreneurial competency is determined by how much different you can think. Risk taking is the essence of the game in this discipline. Those who are always confined to a common way of doing business are limited in concept. Eventually, they are limited in success.

There is no guarantee that trying something different will always bring success. Sometimes it has to involve struggle and a number of failures along the way. But as Thomas Watson puts it; Go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success.

Great innovators

Studying the history of the most successful entrepreneurs throughout the globe reveals a lot of creative thinking. Oprah Winfrey says, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe”

This is an American female entrepreneur who, as Forbes describes; is in a class of her own. Oprah emerged among the only seven existing self-made female billionaires by September, 2013. These are women whose fortune came out of their own investments without an inheritance.

While women rely on their husbands for their wealth, Oprah’s affluence that has shot her to the top 400 wealthiest Americans, as the only African-American, came without the help of a man.

Several cases of molestation in her early childhood did not hold her back. The worst part that would have thrown down any potential business person is the part where she was told off as ‘not fit’ for television.

Oprah Winfrey has revolutionized the US media platform by instigating a number of shows and establishing her own cable network known as OWN. Furthermore she has shown that entrepreneurship knows no bounds by venturing into real estate business that are among the most flourishing in various parts of US like Chicago, New York, Indiana and Montecito, California.

Thinking with no bounds

Many people know about Apple products. Perhaps you are among the Apple diehards who switches from the iPod to iTunes; iMac to iPhone for every one of your leisure and business activities. You probably know by now that you can hardly think about Apple or Apple Inc without Steve Jobs crossing your mind. And while at it, certain knowledge looms in; one that can only be attributed to the same Steve Jobs: thinking outside the box.

In his life he emphasized on the aspect on thinking that is aimed at changing the world. He influenced many people’s way of thinking by his orations and revolutionized not only the computer business but the contemporary entrepreneurial culture as well.

Jobs’ unmatched achievement in the business industry came entirely from his creativity; and if the cliché walking one’s talk was to find meaning; Steven Paul Jobs would be the epitome.

He told entrepreneurs to think outside the box to achieve business success. In practice, he pioneered the reduction of computer chips from what used to be room-size computers. Through his Apple Inc, Jobs was atop the personal computer revolution. Accurately speaking, there is hardly any possibility of any computer brand ever matching the Apple products any time soon.

Jobs’ is just an attestation of what innovation can reap in business competition. In the past there was little in place, giving innovators a wide range of possibilities to create from. Today the situation has changed and a lot of innovation has been made. It makes the business playfield highly competitive. Survival demands that an entrepreneur maintains a great deal of creativity. This is why I break away from Steve Jobs concept to introduce thinking with no box at all.

Innovation as a core competency in the corporate world today demands that the entrepreneur realizes that there is no box. What remains for them as an option is just thinking free; with no bounds at all.

Becoming an Innovator

Innovation and Competency“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” says Madam C.J. Walker. Becoming creative involves first finding areas in your work environment that provide opportunities to innovate. These may be anything ranging from your customer relationship management to new processes, nature of services to improving your workflow, developing new products to improving the quality of your current product.

Oftentimes, the smaller businesses and even the startups are thirsty for growth. So they take the existing idea and play around with it, revealing various angles and possibilities; and eventually end up unlocking the idea’s potential in coming up with very creative breakthroughs.

Big and established businesses may develop resistance to new ideas, shackled to bureaucratic beliefs on ‘the established norm’. The ‘norm’ psychology is poisonous to innovation. Making money is the name of the game in business, yes, but it is dangerous to remain with the same strategy in a vast ocean of constant change. This is the reason behind the downfall of major corporations; they simply are not keen enough to notice when the rule of the game has changed to be able to change with it and remain relevant.

The next thing to follow after identifying an area to innovate is finding and framing the opportunity by drafting a working action plan. This should be tied to a thorough and keen study of your existing situation followed by precise decision of the exact direction you wish to take.

For those upcoming innovators who wish to become established corporate entrepreneurs some day, the best way to identify your path is by learning from the companies that are already doing it.

You need to seek employment with some organization that is dealing in the same area you aspire to venture in. It is more advisable to work with a smaller organization with preferably ten or less employees where you will be relevant by constantly finding where to offer your services. Here you will grow with the organization. A large corporation may not put you in the core of their business and you may learn little.

About the author

Noam Tamari-Wekser

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