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Innovation Speed

Innovation speed means being in the marketplace first with new goods and services that customers want and need. Speed in this sense is about constantly experimenting with new features that give customers what they want, before a company runs the risk of losing them to a competitor who is more innovative.

Product life cycles are getting shorter. First-mover advantage continues to become more and more significant for business success. Innovation speed is being agile enough to take advantage of opportunities as and when they arise. An obvious example of innovation speed is Apple, and how quickly it got touch screen technology to market several years ago. Although it’s common now, it wasn’t when the iPhone was first released. Being first to market was a colossal advantage to Apple and led to record profits in a short timeframe. Innovation speed can’t possibly flourish in an environment where people are trained and rewarded for mindlessly complying with a set of systems and processes. I’ve plenty to say about the barrier of compliance in Part II.

Innovation is more than thoughts. We’ve all dreamt of great ideas, only to find someone else putting that idea into tangible affect, and reaping the rewards. So innovation as a dimension of enterprise agility means putting ideas into action to create sought-after products and services faster than anybody else.

We can learn from companies like Apple—noted for its innovation speed. Leaders have to think and operate differently, and persuade employees to do so too. Conventional ideas about performance must be abandoned. The way we use orthodox performance management tools such as the job description and performance review, for example, slows— not speeds up—the capacity to innovate. These antiquated tools box people into work specialties and categories that value obedience above innovativeness.

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