Some companies are born innovative, some achieve innovation and others have innovation thrust upon them.

To be innovative at birth is a fine start for a company and to carry on innovating throughout its existence will make for a longer, richer life. To achieve innovation is a conscious process of directed change – of strategies, structures, systems, mindsets and cultures – and that too is very valuable.

To innovate when forced to, to change only when there is no other alternative is a less attractive option.

In a competitive environment, being forced into innovation has many drawbacks. A company doing new things as a reactive response to external threats only, will be deprived of the benefits of a first mover, or even of a fast second. An aversion to change and new ideas, such as arises from sluggishness or excessive comfort, will make implementing new things all the more difficult when the time for change inevitably comes. The company which has change thrust upon it will lose market share and profits to more creative and faster competitors, even as it strives to transform itself. Change, when it does happen, will be slower and more laborious.

Innovation by choice is far better strategy. It requires looking at the future, setting change objectives, and establishing an innovation culture to help innovation happen over time. It means consciously balancing innovation with operational efficiency. It involves risks taken with open eyes. In the process the company becomes a learning organization and accustoms itself to change.

IBM is a case in point. There is no question that it was born innovative and it thrived in the world of mainframes for quite a few decades. In the 1980s however, innovation was thrust upon IBM by Apple and the advent of personal computing. IBM managed to dominate the business uses of personal computing only with the help of Microsoft which reaped the bulk of the benefits. For a while IBM was wobbling. In the 1990s it strategically chose to redefine its entire business model. It focused on service and integrating systems and later sold its PC business to LeNovo. Today hardware accounts for about 15% of IBM’s revenue.

Like IBM, many organizations are embracing innovation as a key element of strategy and as a core value. For others it is an empty buzzword, which is why they should start worrying. There are many good reasons not to innovate, some linked to an excessive focus on efficiency and immediate profits, others to various forms of aversion to change.

Quite clearly though, for a company to actively seek and achieve innovation is far better than changing because it has been forced to do so.

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them” William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night).

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Consultant, author, keynote speaker and magician, who combines his unique talents and business experience to inspire people around the world. He works in the areas of leadership, creativity, innovation, strategy and marketing and is the Managing Director of Performa Consulting. Dimis has taught as visiting Professor at the Executive MBA programs of INSEAD (Fontainebleau), CK Graduate School of Business (Beijing), Jiaotang University (Shanghai), Royal Holloway University of London and the Cyprus International Institute of Management (CIIM). He served on numerous Boards of Directors in private companies and non-profit organizations in Cyprus, the US, Russia and Brazil, including the Board of Trustees of The Creative Education Foundation (US). Dimis published The Art of Innovation - Integrating Creativity in Organizations© (2007) and developed the Art of Innovation model in various forms, to help organizations and individuals achieve their full innovation potential. He has delivered presentations and led workshops in numerous creativity forums including TEDx (New York), Harvard Business Review (China), Creative Education Foundation (USA), American Creativity Association, CREA (Europe), European Conference for Creativity and Innovation, Africa Creativity Conference. Dimis has extensive international experience in General Management, Marketing and Finance - at the World Bank (Washington), Zeneca (Paris), Council of Europe (Paris) and Laiki Cyprialife (Nicosia). Dimis is a graduate of the London School of Economics (B.Sc), London Business School (MBA), Sussex University (MA) and INSEAD (Leadership in Organizations). He is fluent in Greek, English and French, operational in Spanish and Portuguese. He loves his wife and son, mother and brother, music and magic, art and history, film and theater, and his dog, Goya.

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