Hi there! My name is Kimberly Yang and I will be a Grade 12 student at Thornhill Secondary School. In the past few months, I have had the pleasure to work on professional industry case studies while learning about the world of consulting with Illuminate College and their National Partners. Here is an article I wrote which strives to highlight what innovation is, and how innovation is a necessity to achieving success in the business world.
Failure - we all come in contact with it at some point in our lives. And more often than not, we dread the idea of failing. As a society, we see failure to be detrimental to our success, and ever since we were young, we are taught to avoid failure. In school, we aim to get A’s, so that we can get into a good university or get a job offer after college, and avoided getting F’s because that symbolized that we were weak. In this subtle way, throughout our years of growth, the idea that failure is not good for us becomes embedded in our minds, thus making us avoid it. Instead of seeing failure as a natural part of life, we see it as very negative. As a result of seeing failure in such a light, it causes people to start avoiding the most important and necessary tool of today’s generation: Innovation.
Many of you may be asking - what is Innovation?
By your average definition from a dictionary, innovation is the introduction of something new. However, if one is to dig a little deeper, one may find that innovation is not solely just the introduction of something new, but the core reason for our modern existence and ever-advancing society. As Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.” If the world did not have innovation, nothing new would be created, and without anything new, there would be no progress within our society. The same can be said from a business perspective: if the company is not making any new progress and is not innovating, it simply would not be able to compete with others and stay relevant. Innovation is coming up with more ways of creating, searching, and producing meaningful differences between competitors. It is also about being able to bring ideas to life, and have them be proven useful by customers, the workforce, society, and anything these innovative ideas/products are implemented.
However, an abundance of people are afraid of this strange word called “innovation” - many times, when one tries something new or attempts to think of new ideas, there is a high percentage that something may go wrong. Perhaps a new product you thought of didn’t work as efficiently as you hoped, or perhaps a new idea you created didn’t play out as smoothly as you would have liked - no matter the situation, failure is something that comes hand-in-hand with innovation. Unfortunately, the fact that people have been brought up to fear failure has, in turn, placed stigma upon innovation as well. From taking fewer risks, limiting themselves from grabbing opportunities that come their way, to even being unwilling and afraid to think of new ideas, all in all, this mindset that we need to avoid failure grabs a hold of many people’s hearts.
You may ask - what is so bad about taking fewer risks? Why should I innovate and increase my chance of failure?
To answer this question, imagine yourself living in a time period without agriculture. You and those around you are hunters and gatherers who utilize a lot of time to scavenge for food instead of farming or cultivating resources. If innovation were not to exist, then society today would have truly still lived that way. Why is that you may ask? Well, that is because the transition towards agriculture was caused by innovation. By thinking of new ways and solutions such as agriculture to gather resources, it freed up time for people to partake in other activities and spend their time more productively. Even today, innovation is a vital and necessary step to become more productive. Each and every day, new ideas are being generated within the business world. From new methods, new products, to new strategic plans for people to follow, more and more businesses are starting to look at situations from different perspectives and create new solutions to increase efficiency. Within our society, innovation is the source of economic growth. Through innovation, we increase productivity, effectiveness, and are able to produce more in less time and/or at lower costs.
Alongside improving productivity, innovating also helps to meet the needs of customers. Customers are a vital part of a business's success, and especially as society changes, so do the needs of customers and the community.
A product or service that a business provides may exactly suit the customer's needs today, but they may change completely the next day. To be able to continue to grab hold of the customer's attention, a business needs to be able to analyze the market/trends and be able to see what customers yearn for, understand what they may desire in the future, and be able to innovate new solutions to customers needs before they can have time to complain or raise their voice.
One final area that innovating can improve and provide is allowing for a company to stand out. It is prevalent and obvious that as a business, one may face a wide variety of competitors within whatever industry one is in. Many times, it is difficult to be able to compete and stand out amongst the crowd. However, one way to be able to do this is through innovation.
According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, approximately 84% of executives say that success against competitors is dependent and determined based on innovation. By being able to create something and offer unique innovations, or by thinking outside the box and producing something that no other companies have produced, it will undoubtedly be able to push the company to the top, stand out in the market, and overall, generate definite success.
An excellent example of an innovator that has made a big change is Sheila Lirio Marcelo. Born in the Philippines, Marcelo is famously known for her creation of Care.com. As a woman who struggled to find quality care for her children and parents, in 2006, Marcelo used her passion for technology to create an incredibly impactful online website which helps people to find and manage family care.
Having over 22 million members, Care.com allows families to search, connect with, and select good, reliable caregivers at any cost. Due to Marcelo’s successful innovation and smart thinking to creating new solutions to many, she is considered to be one of the top 10 women entrepreneurs, and one of the few most influential innovators in the world.
Being able to adapt, analyze, and comprehend what customers, the community, and society wants and needs is extremely important. People and businesses that are able to take steps to innovate, create new innovations, or find innovative consultants are those who are able to grow immensely: increased presence, reputation, and success – all of this can be achieved through innovation.
Not innovating is not an option in this day and age. As our society is constantly changing and growing, innovating has become more important than ever.
If you want to strive for success, start saying yes to innovation.
“Growth & Innovation: Strategy & Corporate Finance.” McKinsey & Company, 2019, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/how-we-help-clients/growth-and-innovation.
Henderson, Theodore. “Council Post: Why Innovation Is Crucial To Your Organization's Long-Term Success.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Mar. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/05/08/why-innovation-is-crucial-to-your-organizations-long-term-success/.
Powers, Anna. “Failing Your Way To Success: Why Failure Is A Crucial Ingredient For
Success.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 May 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/annapowers/2018/04/30/failing-your-way-to-success-why-failure-is-a-crucial-ingredient-for-success/#876c7f6170a3.