How do I know if I have an innovative corporate culture?

As a follow-up to my recent post, where I mentioned that organizations that formally manage innovation are more successful, I wanted to probe further into the question “How do we know if our innovation process is successful?”

For one thing, instead of focusing on the number of new products and services you bring to market, measure the percentage of revenue those new products and services represent. An innovation can only be successful if it has commercial viability, otherwise why innovate? An organization can only say that it has a culture of innovation if a large percentage of its’ revenues come from products and services that didn’t exist three or four years ago.

If you want to know whether or not your organization is successful at creating innovation, look at the breakdown of your revenue. How much of that revenue is represented by products and services that did not exist five years ago? If the answer is less than 30% then you are not an innovative company. You may be a successful company (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but you’re not an innovative company.

How will you ensure a culture of innovation in your organization?

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – February 25, 2013
With Target getting ready to enter the Canadian market, they have launched a new advertising campaign to make Canadians more aware of the company. The campaign focuses on the pride Canadians have in their diverse country and culture. The adverstisements tell Canadians that Target has spent the last year getting to know Canada and its citizens, so they can best meet the needs of customers. Target’s strategy highlights some keys to remember when moving into a new market:
  • Know your target buyerEven though Target is trying to appeal to all Canadians, they are really targeting a subset of that market, the people who might actually go into a target and buy something. When entering a new market, it’s easy to get distracted by trying to have mass appeal, but the most important people to appeal to are your target customers.
  • Create an emotional connection as quickly as possible By playing off of Canada’s diversity and pride, Target is trying to show Canadians that the company understands who they are and what they need. Target is trying to become part of the Canadian culture as some other brands have done successfully (Molson Canadian is one brand that has done this very successfully). The faster an organization can make an emotional connection with customers, the faster they can create brand ambassadors and loyal customers.
  • All customers are not created equalAlthough organizations need to treat all customers like they are the only customer the organization has, not all customers should receive the same treatment. Key customers should be treated differently than other customers. Any strategy around customer acquisition and retention must centre around this concept.
“The key to entering a new market is knowing who your target customer is and how to best appeal to that target customer,” says Andrew Miller, President of ACM Consulting. “Too many companies move into new markets and assume that doing what they have done in the past will make them successful. Every market is different and every country is different, so organizations may need to look at a different strategy to be successful.
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

Turning customer complaints into new sales

In a recent post, I identified different ways to find money and performance boosts. One of the statements was, “Instead of focusing on resolving customer complaints, measure the amount of new revenue generated from those complaining customers.”

Many organizations measure the amount of time it takes customer service representatives to get off the phone, or the volume of calls per hour or maybe even the number of customer issues resolved on the first call. But what about turning that customer complaint on its head and actually making a sale after resolving the issue. When their issues gets resolved quickly and to their satisfaction, customers are grateful. You have just removed one point of stress from their lives.

If you just spilled water on your computer and someone at Apple’s Genius Bar was able to fix it, wouldn’t you be open to listening about an additional warranty to replace your computer if that ever happened again, or some kind of storage device that automatically saves your data? Sometimes it takes a problem for customers to realize what they really need and they’ll be willing to take steps to avoid that problem happening again.

These are the types of opportunities that the best companies in the world look for and exploit.

Of course it requires customer service reps to have a different set of skills, but it also creates a new revenue stream and strengthens customer loyalty. What other opportunities can you find to turn negative situations into growth opportunities?

Innovation is more successful when formally managed

According to a recent survey by the Conference Board of Canada, more than half of the 450 companies surveyed have no formal innovation process. How is that possible? And we wonder why Canadian companies lag behind other countries in developing and implementing innovation.

Creating a process to manage innovation is not that difficult. Frankly, most organizations are probably already doing it in an informal way, but there’s no doubt they are missing some important components. Here’s a cycle of innovation organizations can use as a guide.


Within this cycle of innovation, there are some questions organizations should be asking:

  • Where are the innovative ideas coming from? Where should they come from?
  • How do we evaluate the ideas to ensure we move forward with the right ones?
  • How do we know if an idea was successful or not? How do we measure progress?
  • What plan do we need to execute in order to turn the idea into something commercially viable?
  • How do we compare against our best competitors?

In a complex and inter-connected world, organizations can’t afford to miss any opportunity for an advantage. Managing innovation according to the process above may just give you that advantage you need.

Click here for more details on this cycle of innovation.