INNOVATION is Your Key to Success in a World That's Changing Fast
By Cale Bruckner, President & CEO at Concentric Sky & Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce Board Co-Chair
In a world that’s changing fast, being innovative is more important than ever.
In the context of doing business, innovation is about creating something new that has value, and it comes in all sizes. The iPhone was a big innovation. Your accounting team making a decision that streamlined billing and saved money was a small innovation. Both matter.
Most companies can point to flashes of innovation in their histories, but to really succeed in today’s world, you need to create a company culture that supports perpetual innovation. You need to build an innovation engine.
That takes more than painting “We Are Innovation” on the wall in the break room. To build an innovation engine, start by creating a safe place for your team to try new things, fail, and try again. And remember, it isn’t failure if what you learned from the experience eventually leads to success.
Next, teach your team to challenge the status quo. “Why are we doing it this way?” is a question you want to hear often. If you aren’t, lead by example and ask it yourself.
Celebrating innovations across your company, big and small, is another good way to show your team that you value efforts to challenge the status quo and try new things.
At the Eugene Chamber, CEO Brittany Quick-Warner, the Chamber Board, and the Chamber staff are building an innovation engine. Innovation is one of the Chamber’s four core values, and every member of the team knows it. The team feels safe challenging established practices, and there’s no shortage of valuable ideas to be mined from the group. We’re constantly evaluating how we work, and looking for opportunities to improve — to innovate. We celebrate even the smallest steps forward.
For example, the Chamber recently decided to outsource our accounting and finance functions. We couldn’t afford a full-time employee, but some out-of-the-box thinking led us to hire a fractional CFO under contract with a local accounting firm. We further reduced costs by exchanging magazine advertising space for reduced fees. Now we have a part-time CFO on the team, delivering tons of value to the organization, which we could never afford to hire full-time.
The Chamber is also working to build innovation engines within the community we serve. One example is our commitment to supporting the development of an Innovation District, a designated section of the city where creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, students, and tech-savvy innovators can come together to conceive and implement new ideas — a first for Eugene. We’re still in the early stages of working with community partners; you’ll be hearing more as the year progresses.
From my perspective as Co-Chair of the Board and a long-time Chamber member, the Chamber’s innovation engine is strong. By all our measures, the Chamber is healthy and poised to serve our community for the foreseeable future. Our members will see a variety of innovative programs roll out in 2019, including a new membership model that is a direct result of the work we’ve put into creating a culture that values and fosters perpetual innovation.
Your company’s ability to perpetually innovate could be the determining factor of your success in a world that’s changing fast. Is your innovation engine up to the task?
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