The Innovating Power of Eight Words

Lately eight words have come up more often than not as the new imperative for business, not just for the start up but the more established business to measure themselves against. We live in ‘volatile’ times and they reflect what we have to constantly remind ourselves to do and they just are keeping me buzzing at present.

These are: Adapt, Investigate, Agility, Speed, Scale, Impact, Experiment, and Execute.

Here is my take on the power of these eight words that need to be in our innovating lexicon

They don’t need to come all together but I think they need to be applied as a ‘litmus’ test constantly in much of our ‘daily’ thinking to keep aware.

1. Adapt– New conditions are forcing us to change, to alter our ways to simply adjust or we fast become history. We have to often find ways to fit, modify, adjust. Adaptation is leading us more and more to Darwin and natural selection. We adapt to become fitter, to evolve and I think many are struggling on this in these challenging times.

2. Investigate– If we don’t have inquiring minds we are in trouble. We hatch ideas in the office, we ‘dispatch’ them outside talking to our customers and getting the real pulse of the market place. We need to scrutinize, search, shift and study far more than ever. Investigation leads to insights.

3. Agility – Today’s landscape is shifting constantly.  Agility comes in different forms, but it’s the ability to quickly adapt too or even anticipate and lead change. I can’t think of anything more important than building an agile company, because the world changes so quickly and unpredictably.  Besides it needs to be on my list as I chose this name for my advisory business and innovation work.

4. Speed– Simply everything is speeding up. The rate of what is coming towards us just seems to demand we react quicker, have a rapid and prompt reaction to all that is bombarding us daily but for organizations, it really is the speed of change happening around us to give us all such difficulty to read and react to this. Thankfully we just have to ‘escape’ to that tropical paradise to put a brake on all this, once in a while.

5. Scale– the degree we ‘scale’ our business from its small beginnings to becoming a national then global business is shortening dramatically. We have more tools, more technology, more ability to achieve this but often we lack the two essential ‘fuels’ to power this- the right people and the cash to keep the pace alive.

6. Impact – The ability to be seen, to achieve a more dramatic effect than others around you to get not only noticed, but to fuel the momentum. Often we lack the necessary impact within our presentations and don’t get the required attention. Our products are required to offer impact, our advertising, our design, our sales pitch so we can stand out in a very crowd space of competing voices.

7. Experiment – We are being always asked to ‘prove it’ and encouraged to prototype, to run tests, to hold trials, to provide evidence, to prove or disprove something. This can be a theory, a product, a piece of research, a new innovation tool that might be speculative. Experiments contain and provide the value and proof it can be taken forward.

8. Execute– the ability to deliver. As Chris Trimble & Vijay Govindarajan suggest in their book “the other side of Innovation” that solving the execution challenge is critical. I’ve written numerous blogs about execution as it is where the ‘last five yards’ separate the winners from the losers that others judge the result. When you execute you need to deploy a significant skill set and dedicated resource to bring home the results.

So these are my eight, most powerful innovation words that keep me awake and alert. What are yours?

10 thoughts on “The Innovating Power of Eight Words

  1. Paul: nice piece. Not sure if it’s a ninth word, or an adjective on [investigate], but I’d add [validate] to the list, with metrics as the preferred path to such validation. Some of the most innovative firms I’ve had the pleasure to work with have been playing ‘Moneyball’ for years; they’re using stats-based approaches to validate their ‘gut’ instincts on what’s working and what isn’t, and find their fastest path to adapting with impact. Trust this adds some value. – John


  2. My list includes many, if not all, of the above and in addition:
    Compassion: Not really seen as a business word but proving necessary as businesses are noticing improved profit margins when they have a compassionate approach to the internal working of the company and the external world. Businesses that are conscious of their impact on the world in a social and/or environmental context are more appealing to the consumer and notice improved consumer loyalty. Companies like Google have shown remarkable progress in both profitability, innovation and staff loyalty by providing a workplace that supports the individual in a new framework of what I would call compassion.
    Courage: I’m noticing more and more that business are having to change the model of internal organization to accommodate a new generation of employees and I believe that any business that wants to go from “good to great” needs to have the courage to adopt the new model which includes a high level of commitment to “agility” and “investigation” as mentioned above.


  3. What about “Intuition”.
    It often take a long time to take and endorse decision, especialy in a team, so that this decision becomes obsolete! Why not trusting our intuition? The first ideas or feelings are often the good ones. And if not, the time we gain by using our intuition could be used to make adjustments. Intution = Gain of time & innovation,


  4. Great list and wonderful adds.

    Create and Connect might be my numbers 9 and 10.


    Bryan Mattimore
    Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs


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