Three reasons to innovate

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Jonar Nader on stage innovation

Jonar Nader says that companies must embrace and understand innovation, just like they must embrace understand finance or marketing. What is the difference between innovation and invention? What are the reasons that most organisations find it difficult to innovate? What is the solution? Jonar Nader discusses his concept of ‘OPEX’ which he coined to mean ‘One Percent Excellence’. Further below is a transcript of the video.

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Announcer: Jonar Nader is a management consultant, a futurist, and a technologist. He started as a programmer at the age of 15. To show us “How to Lose Friends and Infuriate Innovators” and to outline why organizations find it difficult to evolve, please welcome, Jonar Nader.

Jonar Nader: There are three reasons why we need to innovate. The first is that in life those who are content are the richest of all. Yet, in business, those who are content I would say are sitting ducks. You cannot apply the same formula. So, therefore, what we are saying is that innovation is absolutely mandatory and the first reason is that it provides growth. And by growth, I don’t mean expansion. People think that growth is when we just sort of open another offers and make lots of sales. That’s expansion. Growth, to me, is like a tomato. It has to grow at every molecular level bit by bit in 360-degree fashion. And so our organization needs to grow completely from every angle.

Jonar Nader: The second reason why I say innovation is vital is that even though we might be successful today and customers are lining up for our product and, we can say that while our customers and while your customers are beating a path to your door, your competitors are tunneling a door to your path. And so that is all about security. Innovation is vital to keep you secure.

Jonar Nader: And the third reason why innovation is vital is that we all understand the importance of health. And health requires constant exercise. You don’t decide to be healthy when the doctor says you’re in dire strait, you better do something about it now and you can hardly get off the chair.” So, funnily enough, looking after your health is best done when you don’t need to. Like advertising is best done when you don’t to, and innovation is best done when you don’t need to. And so I say the third reason innovation is vital is because it does to your company what exercise does to your health. And innovation, therefore, here, is about power.

Jonar Nader: Andrew this morning mentioned the word “momentum.” The reason we require power in business is so that we can get something pushed and going and let the momentum take it for wall while we turn our attention somewhere else and keep growing and innovating. Momentum is your most important resource in success and the formula to success. Now, when I say innovation, I do not mean this fantastic idea that comes and changes your life. I am talking about the essence of the DNA of your organization. I called a hotel just the other day and we were booking for dinner, and I asked the lady, “Well, do you have parking for us?” She said, “Yes, there is a parking station downstairs. But it doesn’t belong to us. Certainly, you can park there.” I said, “Do you know when they closed, because that’s an important consideration?” She said, “No, I don’t.”

Jonar Nader: Now, when I say a company must be absolutely innovative 360 degrees in every cell throughout the entire lifestyle, it means how can that person hang up the phone from that point on and go to the next call without logging the question? “Gee, I think I should know when the car park closes.” And so innovation isn’t about the invention; it’s about the way of life and everything that we do and touch. If that lady did not thereafter go searching for that very good question, “When does the car park close?” I don’t think that business has any hope because it just doesn’t happen with acquisition or buying a new satellite system.

Jonar Nader: I’ll give you another example of what I mean by that innovation comes through the essence of who we are. I find it amazing that I can receive a bill from a telephone company and at the top it says, “If you have bill inquiries, call 13XXX. And you….” And it says, “For bill inquiries call that number.” And you call that number, who do you think you’re going to get? Not bill inquiries. And then you have to navigate through the process. Now, if a telephone conglomerate cannot so much as engineer it that when it tells you to call this number for bill inquiries that that’s who you’re going to get, I just don’t understand how that organization can be innovative. Buying a new satellite or micro chips and globalization does not make it innovative. It has to start with an aching question in everybody’s mind: “This doesn’t seem to make sense.” And I am the best and most stupid customer of my mobile carrier who I left only a month ago. I’ve been with them for years and I’m the most stupid customer because whenever I travel, I can’t be bothered buying calling cards. And I’m on a $79 plan and I’m always above 400 and when I go anywhere it’s about 600. Every bill is 600 – the most stupid thing you can be doing. And I came back from Paris and I get the bill, I pay the bill. I get the bill, I pay the bill. All of a sudden, I mean, amazing, my phone doesn’t work. After all the rigmarole, “We cut you off.” Why? Because apparently I owe them $9. “How am I supposed to know I owe you $9? You send me the bill, I pay you the bill. Did you send me a bill?” “No.” “What happened?” “Oh, while you were roaming in Paris and….” I said, “Am I the first person in the world to whom this has happened? But never mind. How can you cut someone off without so much sending a text message and how much does that cost you?” So you see? This company cannot be innovative until that guy who heard my side of the story thought to himself, “This does seem crazy. We should at least give people 12 hours notice because we cut them off. We knew it was coming.” Now, if that guy doesn’t hang up and run up to the CEO’s office or to his team leader’s office or something and take ownership of that and say, “This is stupid. I don’t want to work for a stupid company,” you cannot be innovative.

Jonar Nader: So, therefore, we need to push innovation at every fingertip and every point or, otherwise, you will absolutely fail like people do fail. So, you cannot innovate if you cannot improve. These huge punctuated chunks of new innovations do not work in a business context, by work, if you’re a solitary, crazy entrepreneur who is just going to go. But in a big infrastructure like an organization, everybody has to have it at their fingertips. Now, how do we improve? We improve by what I call OpEx. And OpEx, you know, people say is operating expense, right? To me, OpEx stands for “one percent excellence.” And we must demand it of each other. Whether on sales or you’re finance or marketing or logistics, we should all look at each other and say, “Let me give you a hug. That was fantastic. What you did there was fantastic, but can we improve this by one percent?”

Jonar Nader: And if every day we can look at each other and encourage each other not with a critical eye but with an uplifting eye that says, “Hey, that was great. What can we do to tweak that just a little bit?” In anything that we do, whether the door squeaks or whether the phone is ringing or whether the car park just doesn’t, you know, years ago I learned about this difference between being aggressive and assertive. And, apparently, an aggressive person, if they hear the tap dripping at night will just get angry. An assertive person will just get up, turn the tap off and go back to bed. And we have so many people in organizations who are aggressive and angry and not happy with their work environment, yet what can they do? And, therefore, before you innovate, make sure you have a system in place where anybody at any time can do something about it.

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