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Friday, April 17, 2009

Innovation for Survival

A study of past recessions has shown that companies who focused on R&D and innovation came out of the recession stronger than before. While this may sound like daunting, it is easier than you may think.

There are few companies in the global economy in 2009 that haven't seen some diminishing of their business. Further, fewer investments look as attractive as they once did and there is nothing wrong with having a ready pile of cash. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

So how does a manager convince a company to spend its hard-earned capital on a program of innovation or increased R&D? Nobody said it would be easy and the answer to more capital will likely be "no!" Lest it seem hopeless, consider the alternatives to increased capital spending. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

Innovation doesn't necessarily mean coming up with the new "killer app." It can mean simply considering the environment for the creation, production, distribution, and sales of the company's products and improving them incrementally. Can your company improve how a product is manufactured? Can your company improve how it processes receivables? Have Sales and Marketing considered a YouTube channel? Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

While these potential areas for invention seem very droll and boring, consider how the Post-it note from 3M. Here's the story:

Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, discovered the formula... in 1968. But it was Silver's colleague, Art Fry, who came up with a practical use for it. The idea for repositionable notes struck Fry while singing in the church choir. His bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal, causing him to lose his page. So, taking advantage of a 3M's "bootlegging" policy, Fry used a portion of his working hours to develop a solution to his problem. Now the world is singing the praises of his pet project: Post-it® Notes.

The lesson for managers is that recessions free up some valuable thinking time. Allow your employees to explore past projects, reconsider failed experiments, and apply new purposes to existing products. While most of these trials will fail, it only takes one winner to make the difference.

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