Behaviors of Innovative Companies

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

Which are the values and common behaviors of innovative companies? The question has been successfully answered in numerous articles and books. Summarizing, here are some of the insights from three of the answers I find relevant, those of Jeffrey Baumgartner’s, Gijs van Wulfen’s, and Hal Gregersen’s.

Experimentation. Both Gijs van Wulfen, in a Linkedin post titled “Is Your Company Innovative?”, and Hal Gregersen in the following interview agrees on this point. New ideas need to be implemented as a proof of concept. As Gijs van Wulfen points out, companies need to go beyond the obvious. Those who have this capacity and culture are able to create spaces of trust and autonomy to embrace risk, as Jeffrey Baumgartner also suggests in an article published in Innovation Excellence under the title “The Seven Essential Characteristics of Innovative Companies”.

Furthermore, their way of acting makes us expect innovative companies to move from their existing businesses to new ones. Their innovative leaders go outside their offices and are recognized as active seekers of new things, trying to experiment with the world, as Hal Gregersen adds.

Networking and questioning. This, too, is something of those recognizable as innovative leaders have in common, referring not only to the ability to constantly question but to encourage others to act that way, provoking them and challenging the “status quo”. They also share the capacity of looking for those who can provide the right answers to the questions as well as new approaches. Hal Gregersen stands out in The Innovators’ DNA that these innovators characterize by behaving differently.

Focus on the customers. Innovation starts with the right question, says Hal Gregersen. Normally, it articulates around customer needs. How to bring new value to them, how to improve a service, product, process… Innovators are constantly looking for the perfect solution for the client.

Collaboration. “Good ideas in innovative companies come from a lot of persons”, says Gijs van Wulfen in his article. I couldn’t agree more. To be competitive nowadays requires companies to look for ideas inside and out and to share their knowledge and perspectives, and collaborate. That requires cooperation from the outside and to create spaces where people can feel free to suggest their ideas.
Customer Wow-feeling. Companies that really create new concepts or overcome customers’ needs are recognizable for creating this sense, as Gijs van Wulfen highlights.

Short time to market. This means real implementation. Developing a new concept takes 18 months for a service and 36 months for a product, less for really innovative companies, says Gijs van Wulfen. Jeffrey Baumgartner proposes a characteristic of innovators: The ability to really implement new ideas, not just to collect or pay attention to them, but bring them into the market.

Innovation grows turnover. The consequence of all the aforementioned; this is a great point formulated by Gijs van Wulfen in his article. “Innovating the product/service portfolio must therefore grow turnover and generate money by opening up new markets, applications, or customer groups”, he affirms. Innovation is clearly a necessity for the continuity of organizations.


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