Innovative Growth

The best way to grow your business and increase your revenue—without investing any money in advertising or expansion—is to proactively provide more value to your best clients and customers.

Innovation simply means improving your existing products or processes and creating new ones.

Innovation comes from three places:

  1. The front lines
  2. The middle out
  3. The top

Figure 137.1 Innovative Growth

The Front Lines

Your front-line people have the most customer contact. They deal with complaints and problem solving frequently. Your people have the best eyes and ears on the delivery and implementation of your products and services.

Some of your people probably do things differently and better than the others in responding to your customers’ needs. I call these “invisible best practices” because nobody knows about them and they’re not codified into your systems and procedures. Seek these out and transfer them across your organization.

Your people can listen and observe—from your customers’ perspectives—how the customers use, and benefit from, your products and services. Then, they need to think ahead to figure out what else they can do, create, or provide, to those customers, to get them results that are faster, bigger, and better.

Are your front line people order takers or proactive innovators?

The Middle Out

Doug Christie, the president and founder of Christie Mechanical, a commercial plumbing and ventilation contractor, says innovation in his business occurs from the middle out. I had never heard that term before.

Doug explained, “when we’re working on a project, we frequently encounter challenges that weren’t foreseen during design. That’s when we get creative and figure out how to do things better, how to save time and costs for the customer, while keeping the project moving along. We’re in the middle of the project. We don’t have time to start over. We get our experienced people together and work out a solution.”

When you’re in the middle of something and things don’t work out as planned, what are your solutions? How do you add these improvements to your corporate knowledge and systems?

Top Down

Innovation rarely happens in a board room…unless you’re talking about strategy with me! Your job, as the leader, is to support your front lines and middle managers so they are constantly looking for ways to improve what you already do.

Innovation is about helping your customers to grow their businesses, increase revenues, save time, reduce costs, eliminate stress, and enhance success. External innovation is more valuable than internal innovation. Where are you focused?

What’s your plan to help your customers get results that are faster, bigger, and better?

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