Stagnation vs. Innovation

ASHLEY

MCCRUMB

Messenger Staff


We have all heard the term “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ve used this saying several times in my life. My daily mantra is guided by simplicity. If doing something a certain way works for me, I don’t usually go out of my way to find an alternative. Why buy a top-of the-line electric razor if you prefer the look and feel of a straight razor that has done the trick for years?

The thing is, even though I love the idea of keeping things simple, I also understand the importance of being adaptable. I try to be flexible in my thoughts and decisions every day of my life. “Why?” you might ask. In my humble opinion, there is nothing more dangerous than a person that is completely set in their ways. The same goes for groups, organizations, and businesses that lack innovative mentalities.

Recently I’ve seen a meme floating around the internet. It states, “The most dangerous phrase in language is: “We’ve always done it this way.” I agree with this statement whole-heartedly. While relying on a tactic that is tried and true can seem as natural as it is harmless, it also can lead to stagnant courses of action in solving future problems. Coming up with innovative strategies can be difficult depending on a company’s willingness to change. Trying out a new strategy can be shut down for fear of the unknown, or plain and simply not wanting to learn something new. Incidentally, fear of change can often lead to failure.

Take Kodak for example. Kodak was the leading innovator in photographic technology for the first 100 years that they were in business. It’s hard to believe that the same company we know for being one of the camera giants of the world filed for bankruptcy in the last decade. I remember being completely mind blown when I learned about Kodak’s bankruptcy. I was less surprised once I found out that their decline ultimately came from Kodak’s inability to adapt to the digital age—convinced that film would never be replaced by anything digital.

When it comes to business, there are only two options: adapt or die. Innovation and strategic thinking can help companies succeed when they start to sink. Apple, now considered to be one of the most successful companies worldwide, was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 90s. Through innovative strategies that led to the development of a partnership with Microsoft and the invention of the iMac, Apple’s success was ensured in the years that followed.

According to Northeastern.edu, “Nearly half of Americans agree that growth in technology has been the biggest improvement to life in the past 50 years. As a result, companies that embrace innovation have had a sizable advantage in ultimately meeting the demands of their customers. Simply put, companies cannot afford to stay afloat if they do not embrace innovation and change.”

Adapting current times and promoting change is crucial in developing smarter business practices and creating products that only differentiate you from competitors. It also maintains the relevancy and profitability of your business. One thing is for certain, without innovation, the same old thinking always comes back to the same old results. With innovation, we can aspire to transform the statement, “We’ve always done it this way”, to a more insightful question, “What can we do better?”


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