5 Important Things That Set Innovative Companies Apart

December 5, 2016

In the wake of digital disruption, innovation has become a new priority for the business sector. As markets continue to change alongside technology, only the businesses that choose to innovate will find themselves able to keep pace, while those who adhere to old business models in the face of change will not.

Leaders who wish to learn how to harness the power of innovation for their company must first learn to recognize what traits set these new, pioneering firms apart. Listed here are five traits that help identify innovative companies.

1. They look for new paths instead of relying on old ones

Innovators are not guided by the actions of other companies within an industry and do not feel the need to adhere to the traditional paths that many less innovative companies take. When an industry becomes strong and well established, the different mental models applied by its leaders have a tendency to overlap and become the standard for the sector. Innovative companies employ leaders who are able to see past precedent and clearly identify which models are beneficial, and which exist due to traditionalism. This allows innovative companies to forgo some of the more popular business trends and instead create trends for themselves.

However, it’s important to note that innovative companies do not blindly try emerging trends to see what sticks. Innovation is strategic and rooted in research, and the companies that do it best expend plenty of energy on gaining insight into their customers. They do this early on in the process of creating innovative products, which allows them to make ongoing alterations that satisfy customer needs.

2. They fall forward and embrace setbacks

Calculated risk is key when it comes to operating like an innovative company, and risk aversion is one of the biggest roadblocks for successful businesses in that respect. Those who lack the willingness to gamble with the prospect of failure will have incredible difficulty capturing the kind of revolutionary change that they seek.

Innovative companies know that risk is smart when done correctly, and they recognize the value of failure. Leaders within these businesses encourage employees to suggest and develop unconventional ideas, and support teams through both successes and failures. Innovative companies recognize that knowledge is formed from mistakes, and leverage that knowledge to improve future endeavors. The most important part of a failed business development at an innovative company is that employees “fail fast,” reorienting themselves after setbacks and taking valuable knowledge gleaned from the experience with them into the next project.

3. They take a modern approach to management

Truly innovative companies value creative employees. Further, they believe that innovation and creativity should be present in all levels of operations, and manage staff in a way that builds innovative spirit into the fabric of company culture.

The leaders of successful, innovative companies are flexible, communicative, and open to change. These leaders grant their employees greater freedom than traditional counterparts, and the delegation of more autonomy over the work pays out in the form of enhanced creativity and enthusiasm for the job. Additionally, leadership at an innovative company imbues employees with a sense of trust, empowering them to make the kind of decisions that push the firm toward innovative development.

4. They never stop moving

One thing that every innovative company has in common is a commitment to forward motion. Innovative companies do not lull themselves into complacency after earning success but instead constantly pursue improvement. They conduct research, speculate on possible future trends, and never stop looking for ways to better meet the needs of their customer base. They recognize that speed is the new currency of business, and they do not become so comfortable within achievement that it slows business velocity.

These firms also understand that the digitization of companies across all industries requires them to be highly adaptable and ready to make changes when the market proves it necessary. Innovative companies are not caught off guard by the need to make alterations and do not hesitate to incorporate new ideas into their operations.

5. Their focus never leaves the customer

The most revolutionary companies in any sector are those that disrupt convention, leading to new industry standards. In order to become a disruptive force, innovative companies train their focus on the customer, tailoring products and services to fit fluctuations of the market over the course of development. They not only actively seek feedback from their customers, but they apply feedback to create better products.

In addition to giving customers the products that they ask for, innovative companies are also talented at using data to create items and services that the customer has yet to realize that he or she wants. Innovative companies look to tools that harness the power of big data to help determine hidden markets and trigger brand-new ideas that lead to major industry changes.