The Need to Innovate to Survive!

The Need to Innovate to Survive!

OMG! Have you and your organization been affected by COVID? How about those of you in the charitable sector? Has the WE scandal and downfall affected you and how you do business? I bet you are, or have been, constantly told over the last nine months that you need to go digital! You need to change how you do business. You need to innovate or die! All I can say is “Aghhhhhhh!”

OK, so it is not all wrong. Yes, you need to be innovative, but that should have been a priority before COVID and should be an ongoing reality! And yes, digital is really important, but alas, it was important before COVID as well—we just did not heed the messages. And yes, most of us needed to change, or at the least alter, the way we conducted our businesses. Over the last decade or so, we have seen the rise of technology and innovation affect historic business operations. These include, but are not limited to, ride sharing operations such as Uber versus taxis, Amazon versus brick and mortar stores and malls, Netflix versus cable or Blockbuster, Airbnb versus traditional accommodation, digital online second screen engagement versus onsite sampling, and virtual signage versus rink boards. The list goes on.

I am excited to deliver a webinar tomorrow on behalf of the  WSC® Alberta Forum that will be all about shifting into the digital, innovative, customer-focused world of 2021 and beyond. Attendees will get an in-depth look into these thoughts, but I wanted to share some of them with you today on a higher level.

Where do you start? I think the answer is multi-layered. Here are a few thoughts to consider when you and your organization start looking at “going digital,” “changing the way we do business,” and “becoming innovative.” As a company, we recently went through this process as we are working toward greater digital products, altering the way we deliver more cost-effective products and services to our clients, and creating industry leading new products and services. (Stay tuned for upcoming announcements as we roll out all of this in the coming months.) Yes, we got help to guide us—and we did some on our own. This list of three key ideas is what we learned and want to share with you.

  1. When going digital and virtually, understand you need to build the expertise and have the capacity to be successful. You can’t just add a bunch of social media channels and launch an app—they have to be managed. You need not only to hire and train for that capacity, but also budget for it. Too often, we jump into new channels and do a poor job with them, and then blame the product instead of our own incompetence and failure to plan properly!
  2. Get advice—don’t go it alone. Remember the early days of web sites when you had your best friend’s sister’s 17-year-old babysitter’s younger brother (who was a web expert) build and “manage” your website from their basement? Learn from that experience. Get professional advice and heed it. Whether it is assistance in going digital with your sponsorship program, or identifying revenue channels for sponsorship and otherwise in the new world; be it a shift in mission direction or focus on your suite of products and services, get professional advice.
  3. Don’t innovate just for the sake of it. If your programs or products are thriving, see how you can support them, but there’s no need to innovate right away. Stay on top of industry innovations and make sure you don’t get behind the eight-ball (read “Blockbuster”) when you are forced to innovate. Make annual investments in innovation with a plan and budget versus having to react and borrow money to innovate. Like a “rainy day fund” or preventative maintenance fund, be constantly innovating rather than doing it when you have to.

Be prepared, plan, execute, and success will follow.

Please remember to stay HIMPS! (Healthy, Isolate when possible, Masked, Physically distanced and Safe!).

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  1. Great perspective, Brent!
    I am glad you brought up the notion of “innovating just to innovate”. Dont bite off more than you can chew.

    Many organizations have issues with going digital, simply because they dont have the resources to keep things updated. Logos and ads that are several years old because noone had the time to remove them. Yet, the organization continuously searches for funding…

    • Terrific insights and observations Josh. Really appreciate your thoughts and feedback.


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