When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Innovating
As financial titans teeter and collapse, manufacturing executives must be wondering if they are next. It's not like manufacturing leaders didn't have enough to keep them up at night. Rapid technological changes means today's competitive advantage is tomorrow's competitive constraint. A seemingly never-ending stream of low-cost attackers has made it difficult to maintain, let alone grow, profits.
In the face of today's economic headwinds, manufacturing executives face a crucial choice: Hunker down and try to weather the current crisis, or redouble efforts to innovate and grow.
Unfortunately, in today's world hunkering down is tantamount to corporate suicide. The gales of creative destruction have never blown fiercer. Companies that don't develop the ability to improve what they have and create what they don't face the prospects of dwindling growth, tumbling profits and ultimate destruction.
Innovation—creating new products, services, processes, marketing programs and so on—has gone from being a strategic option to a strategic necessity. It is a tough challenge, particularly for manufacturing companies. Service companies can often launch new ideas without large capital investments, making the risk of a single bet going wrong quite manageable. Contrast that to, say, Boeing and Airbus. The cost of an incorrect bet on a next-generation aircraft is staggering.
The following four tips can help manufacturing companies successfully master innovation.