The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned as a hotbed of businesses and industries that continually grab headlines for their innovative product and service offerings. Your company may not be the next billion dollar tech unicorn (perhaps you’re simply a humble professional services firm), but as an executive, you know that innovation is just as essential for the continued success and growth of your business.
What drives success in today’s competitive marketplace more than staying relevant? And how do you ensure your organization is taking advantage of new technologies and staying on top of trends?
Here are just a few reasons why you should be thinking about how to implement innovation at the strategic and tactical levels of your organization:
Stay Ahead of the Curve
The march of progress is an inexorable force that every business must factor into their long-term planning in-order to remain competitive in today’s market. By embracing innovation and exploration, businesses can be sure that they are always one step ahead of their competitors in terms of technological advances, product development, marketing strategies, etc. San Francisco businesses reacted quickly to the pandemic, enabling work from home at a scale never seen before – more so than any other large city. How do you and your clients leverage this new working behavior and what tools and technologies can help enable even greater ability to capitalize on opportunities when they arise? ChatGPT is poised to disrupt & transform work as we know it – what strategies have you developed to accommodate for this new AI-enhanced world?
Increase Efficiency & Productivity
Innovation doesn’t just mean inventing something new- it can also mean finding new ways to leverage prior work, making it faster or more efficient. Your company may find a way to automate processes that were previously done manually, come upon a new way to organize data so that it’s easier to access, or simply turn a daily meeting into a weekly email. These improvements add up over time and make a big difference in terms of efficiency and productivity. Look for a 10x return on efficiency for new tools and processes; but even the smallest gains will put you on better footing than you were yesterday.
Solve Better Problems
Innovation isn’t just about coming up with new ideas; it’s also about problem-solving skills.
Like so many worthwhile efforts in life, innovation is a practice; you’ll find that it grows in strength the more often it’s exercised. To do this, we don’t limit its application to developing new ideas. Challenging yourself and your team to approach problems creatively, even absurdly, will train a unique methodology that will ultimately shape the way that everyday challenges are met and overcome.
Boost Morale with New Ideas
Innovation doesn’t just benefit an organization from a top-down business perspective; it can also help boost morale among team members by offering them opportunities for growth and development. Offering team members access to new technologies or providing them with additional training can help keep them engaged and motivated, which can have a positive effect on overall productivity levels as well. Encouraging employees to explore their own ideas gives them a sense of ownership over their work and drives engagement. Recognizing when an employee contributes a meaningful goal is its own morale booster. Don’t forget to celebrate mistakes too – nurturing innovation also embraces failure as a key component to risk-taking. Creating safe spaces for both success and failure allows for growth to blossom from the ground up instead of top-down.
In some ways, San Francisco is a victim of its own success – tech industry workers, financial services, and professional services firms all flourished in this ecosystem, and many workers drove incredible distances daily just for the opportunity to work here. From an innovation / technology perspective, today’s “new normal” is our post-pandemic work-from-anywhere success, largely enabled by innovative Bay Area companies. Thinking globally and acting locally has been a San Francisco mantra for ages and now we have this opportunity to apply this thinking to our businesses.
Knut Haanaes has an excellent Ted Talk where he discusses the push-pull of innovation vs exploitation and why you need both in your business.(Please note: “exploitation” as it’s used here refers to making use of new or existing ideas; Knut is not advocating for taking advantage of your team members!)
Innovation solely for the purpose of exploring new ideas will fail to bring value to the market. Exploitation of existing work and clients with no focus on evolution will quickly become irrelevant and supplanted by the next big thing.
At Xterra, we’ve added Innovation to every employee’s KPI scorecard – we want to see what our people do with time, resources, and encouragement – and look forward to celebrating great wins, laughing at audacious failures, and acknowledging that innovation must be part of our DNA.
How can Xterra help my business?
Xterra has developed the people, process, and technology to deliver white glove IT services for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time staff. We are focused on helping San Francisco Bay Area clients accelerate their adoption of technology solutions to create measurable business value. If you are interested in learning more about how Xterra can help your business, schedule a free consultation.
David Park is the CEO, CISO, and Partner at Xterra Solutions, a company that delivers technology solutions. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, David is passionate about using technology to transform organizations and empower people. He has a successful track record of defining business needs, managing initiatives, and delivering technology solutions