Con­nect those light­bulb mo­ments

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES - BY SHRAGA ZALTZMAN

IN BUSI­NESS, en­trepreneurs are al­ways look­ing to suc­ceed, be­come mar­ket lead­ers and con­tinue to ad­vance. How­ever, those who are re­ally suc­cess­ful usu­ally take cal­cu­lated risks and make bold moves — some ac­tions will work ini­tially while oth­ers be­come fail­ures. For en­trepreneurs, the key to suc­cess is how quickly fail­ure is con­verted into learn­ing and, ul­ti­mately, into last­ing changes in be­hav­iour.

As Sochiro Honda, founder of the car firm, said: “Suc­cess is 99 per cent fail­ure”. Of­ten, we end up learn­ing more from our fail­ures than our suc­cesses and th­ese mis­takes bring knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to your team.

Such is the case with Thomas Edi­son, whose most mem­o­rable in­ven­tion was the light bulb: it re­port­edly took him 1,000 tries be­fore he de­vel­oped a suc­cess­ful pro­to­type.

“How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a journalist asked.

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edi­son re­sponded. “The light bulb was an in­ven­tion with 1,000 steps.”

In a global mar­ket, how­ever, where com­pe­ti­tion is rife, ev­ery busi­ness must stand out from the rest. To re­tain a unique mar­ket po­si­tion, each must con­tinue to in­no­vate.

In real terms, innovation comes down to im­ple­ment­ing new ideas, the creation of new ex­cit­ing prod­ucts or in­vest­ing in im­prov­ing ex­ist­ing ser­vices to help po­si­tion the busi­ness as a mar­ket leader, of which both cus­tomers and com­peti­tors should take no­tice.

Fail­ure is a nec­es­sary part of the innovation process be­cause from fail­ure come learn­ing, it­er­a­tion, adap­ta­tion and the build­ing of new con­cep­tual and phys­i­cal mod­els through this it­er­a­tive learn­ing process. Innovation, how­ever, can be im­ple­mented in a struc­tured and se­cure man­ner, rather than run­ning around blind in the wild.

If there is no struc­ture, even the most ex­pe­ri­enced en­trepreneurs can end up los­ing fo­cus from their core busi­ness. To avoid this trap, de­vise and fol­low an innovation strat­egy. A clear strat­egy en­sures there is a co­her­ent path­way aimed at achiev­ing a spe­cific com­pet­i­tive goal. A frame­work also prompts us to ask tough ques­tions from the very start. And it is an ef­fec­tive way of en­sur­ing any new en­ter­prises you do un­der­take are not re­hash­ing the same bor­ing old mis­takes. Orig­i­nal mis­takes are ones that teach you some­thing and bring a new fac­tor into the equa­tion.

To cre­ate the right strat­egy, it is cru­cial to un­der­stand your core ob­jec­tive. With­out de­fined goals, your busi­ness jour­ney will be a bumpy ride with lots of wrong turns, wasted ef­fort and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties, the net re­sult be­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on prof­its and busi­ness growth. Goals should be SMART — Spe­cific, Mea­sur­able, Agreed, Re­al­is­tic and Time-spe­cific. Re­mem­ber not to let your care­fully crafted goals sit gath­er­ing dust. Keep them at the fore­front of ev­ery­thing you do and use them to guide the mar­ket­ing de­ci­sions you make.

Take Steve Jobs as an ex­am­ple. In 1985, after Ap­ple dis­con­tin­ued its poorly-sell­ing Lisa com­puter and faced plum­met­ing Mac­in­tosh sales, Jobs was ousted from the com­pany he started from his own garage.

Dur­ing Jobs’s ab­sence from Ap­ple, Mac­in­tosh sales con­tin­ued to strug­gle as com­pet­i­tive prod­ucts from Mi­crosoft be­gan crowd­ing the per­sonal com­put­ing space.

By 1997, though, Jobs was back at Ap­ple and pick­ing up the mess as the com­pany was months away from dis­as­ter. He turned the com­pany’s fo­cus to in­no­vat­ing great prod­ucts, recog­nised the need for innovation and this time the way he in­no­vated was strate­gic.

By 2012, after in­vent­ing the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, Ap­ple be­came the most valu­able com­pany on the planet.

Innovation is fun­da­men­tal to any busi­ness but the key to its suc­cess is hav­ing a strat­egy that sticks closely to your core val­ues and ob­jec­tives.

It is nat­u­ral to face un­ex­pected ob­sta­cles along the jour­ney. How­ever, do not view any fail­ures as un­pass­able ob­sta­cles; th­ese ob­struc­tions are merely step­ping stones to achiev­ing suc­cess in your in­dus­try.

Shraga Zaltzman is chief ex­ec­u­tive of busi­ness and work spe­cial­ist Work Av­enue, the­workav­enue.org.uk

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