Start Innovating Before You Need to

When is the best time to plant a tree? During the hot or cold season? Fall is often considered the best time of year to plant new trees. Generally, late August, September and October are the best months. The worst time is the hottest months of the year. Those are trees how about innovation?

Here is the innovator’s paradox. When times are good, you have the ability to do things differently, but not much urgency or desire. When times are bad, you urgently need to do things differently, but it’s punishingly hard. Why?

Companies end up spending most of their time dealing with what appears to be a sudden crisis in their core business. The cash flow that would support new efforts has dried up. New-growth efforts look too small to address today’s problems. The company needs to do something dramatic, but dramatic efforts rarely work. Innovation master Clayton Christensen calls this the “growth gap death spiral,” meaning the efforts that companies take to plug growth gaps actually result in larger, not smaller, gaps.

Escape the innovator’s paradox; innovate before you need to.

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