Saturday, January 13, 2007

Innovate or Stagnate

Have you ever given any thought to how business people and their marketability is like a product or a business? If you look around at today's most successful businesses and business people dawning the front covers of Fortune, Fast Company, Wired and Time, you will notice that marketability and innovation is the key ingredient resident in most of them.

As business people we need to always be thinking about the currentness of our 1) knowledge and the currentness of our 2) mindset.

1. Let's start with knowledge:

Businesses are laser focused on trying to avoid reaching the maturation and decline stages of the Product Life Cycle. Don't we all want to stay in growth mode on the way up the hockey stick? This takes a lot of good information and instincts as well as the ability to position your business as one which anticipates market changes, innovates, or is a position to be immediately responsive and adaptive to innovation in order to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. If you want a dose of business inspiration, follow Google's innovative moves. Innovate or stagnate.

Business people are on a similar life cycle in their career, seeking to avoid peaks and valleys and remain forever in growth mode while avoiding maturation and decline. Remember how it felt to get your first real career job? Remember the pace of your learning and your eagerness to immerse yourself in every little detail so as to learn the ropes quickly, get noticed and move up? Over time however, as you become more comfortable in your middle management position you may become comfortable, assimilate or not be as eager to find that big idea. Sometimes you lose touch with the pulse of the larger, outside market and slow down your pace of learning. Innovate or stagnate.

We can often forget that we are in charge of our own individual brand and responsible for our marketability.

2. Now, let's deal with mindset. Mindset is as important as knowledge in innovation and marketability. What are the qualities of a business with a successful mindset?

Successful businesses today have a few common qualities when you dig down to the basis of their executive mindset and guiding corporate values. They are open to new ideas and anticipate, rather than resist change. They have a willingness and want to learn. They listen. They find a healthy balance between risk taking and stability. They care about and support their people and their human capital. They are fair, ethical and transparent. And, they innovate-- testing new ideas without fear of failure. They "walk the talk".

Successful business people today have similar qualities. They have a high emotional intelligence and are aware of people and the world around them. They communicate well with others and are aware of their individual goals and how they map to their career goals. They take a proactive, leadership role in life and work. They are fair and open and have a want to genuinely support the people around them-- both above and below. They are adaptive and constanting learning and evolving. They innovate. Interstingly, Google makes #1 on Fortune's Top 100 list, just released.

We can all benefit by taking a more conscious look at our unique strengths and how marketable we are. On the journey of career and life take a moment to do a pulse on your innovation factor. Remind yourself that you are in a constant state of creating yourself. We are all work-in-progress. Innovate or stagnate.

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