Last week I focused on the importance of improving operating workflows and how a well-designed desk output model helps companies not just streamline their operations but benchmark their cost. I received multiple questions about whether this method works for medium-sized companies or only very large ones. The answer is that it works just about anywhere that there are multiple workflows. Someone also asked about which departments would benefit most from tools like these. I’ve seen them deployed effectively in Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Petroleum Land, and Internal Audit to name a few.
Over the last two posts, I’ve discussed the importance of getting timely, accurate information. Today’s blog is about utilizing Innovation to run businesses better.
Innovation Equation – BG&O → S → I
Innovation begins with strategy. Companies looking to innovate need to answer this question: how will your company need to evolve in the years ahead? The answer often lies in investigating the gap between their current capabilities and how the industry is expected to change in the near future. Strategy starts with business goals and objectives which need to be set out ruthlessly. Too often firms confuse strategy with vision. A strategy is not aspirational, it needs to be grounded in reality. Thus:
BG&O → S → I
In today’s environment, the process of meeting business goals and objectives continues to be accelerated by emerging technologies. Machine learning has changed the game in many tasks, allowing AI engines to make decisions. By re-designing existing workflows along these lines, firms can take advantage of automation to bring significant value. They must be unafraid to engage technology platforms to develop custom solutions and prepared to automate complex processes in areas like HR, Accounting, Treasury, and Finance. What sets the best companies apart is their belief that it is equally important to measure the impact of these and other technologies like Blockchain, IoT, etc. on the future of a company’s business model.
Process and Culture Matter
It’s not revolutionary to state that the process and culture of innovation are drivers of success. But there is an inherent dichotomy here. On one hand, corporate innovation is about stretching the boundaries and thinking of the art-of-the-possible. On the other hand, innovation is entirely about discipline. Successful firms manage the blue-sky thinking that success requires with diligent attention to process. Importantly, this discipline must be delivered by humans. Most well-run consulting engagements have as much focus on the human element as the technical. Simply replacing a process with automation lowers costs and reduces errors. But doing it within the context of well-designed workflows that incorporate not just software but insights from psychology and sociology creates an even more efficient process overseen by happier, more fulfilled employees.
The value created by driving innovation in your business is large. Not keeping up with technology cannot be measured because there is no ROI for going out of business. Finally, companies should focus their efforts on engaging technology to look for new sources of revenue and make businesses run better, faster, and cheaper. The secret to innovation is actually quite simple: it’s the art and science behind thinking big, starting small, and failing fast. Just that. Over and over again.
Brian Spector, Chief Development Officer – Sirius Solutions, L.L.L.P.
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