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Innovate or Wither Away

types-of-innovationIt is the end of January and some may say it is too late to start something new for your organization, but I agree with Harvey Mackay: “This a new year. It is a fresh start…. There will never be a better time to try something new.” (Star Tribune, 1/2/14)

In the late ‘80’s, Paper Warehouse was approached with the idea of enhancing the assortment plan of our stores by adding a new category of merchandise: Halloween costumes and accessories. In those days, Target carried a small assortment of low-end costumes, but no one was really merchandising or promoting Halloween. The idea was innovative and we, along with one of our competitors, created this new category of merchandise which ultimately, over the years, dominated the fall season to become a major category of profit.

The decision was a huge risk which, if not approached in the right manner, could have pushed Paper Warehouse over the edge. We solved the situation by asking our manufacturer to share in the risk by helping us set the assortment and guarantee sale of the first year’s purchase. Of course, he chose only winners and quantities that would have a strong sell-thru. It was a huge success. By being INNOVATIVE, we developed a strong differentiation and competitive advantage.

Starbucks continues its dominance in the market place by back filling and opening in new markets. A new remodel strategy was announced on January 6, 2014 with a new concept store called the “Starbucks Reserve Store.” A new “star” logo is even being introduced, giving Starbucks a new look, as the mermaid logo takes a back seat. They seem to have their innovative strategy firmly in place. They understand that innovation and change are required to gain a larger clientele base and to capture even more market share.

In Kansas City where I grew up, a restaurateur by the name of Joe Gilbert was known as an innovator of new restaurant concepts. He used to tell my Dad and me that maintaining the same concept year after year was boring not only to him and his staff but also to the customers. His strategy was to remodel the facility and change the menu and ambiance of the restaurant. He said it gave his business a shot in the arm every time he did this.

Visionary and innovator Douglas Dayton introduced, with his brothers in 1962, an upscale concept called Target. It did not resemble the schlocky discount store of the time. It was original; it made a statement and continues to be the innovator of the retail industry.

In September 2013, Marriott International opened a new concept hotel in London called “Edition” – a boutique hotel intended to attract clients to the next “W”.

Organizations must have a culture which allows for change. 3M has been touted as a corporation who rewards staff for new ideas.

Is your organization’s culture designed to be open to new ideas and to allow the introduction of innovation? The introduction of new ideas which bring something new to the environment is important to the success of your business. The spirit of innovation must be reflected in your strategic and execution plans.

2014 may be the time to re-energize and re-invent all or part of your business. It is time to look at your current position and determine if a change is needed in your strategy to move to the next level or to keep your company moving forward so that it does not wither away.

Will you innovate or wither away? Let’s begin brainstorming together for innovative ideas that will powerfully impact your strategic and execution planning for 2014-2015. Contact us today at 952-960-6688 or