The best opportunities for growth in any organization are not only market-changing, but often a threat to your existing business. Consider the story of the digital camera.
In 1975, Steve Sasson, an engineer at Kodak, invented the first digital camera which he cobbled together with pieces from a Super 8 movie camera and a digital voltmeter application, and assorted nickel cadmium batteries and circuit boards. The prototype was then demonstrated to many internal Kodak audiences throughout 1976, and even though it elicited interest and curiosity, it never went any further, probably because of what it was called – “film-less photography”. Even Sasson admits that this was an insensitive choice of demonstration title; remember, Kodak’s revenues came from selling film! To its credit, Kodak recognized that it couldn’t ignore filmless photography forever and in the 1990’s invested substantial sums in development and eventually successfully brought digital photography to the market. But it sat on the idea for almost 20 years because it saw itself in the business of selling film.
So what are the threats to your existing business (or your department)? Chances are that’s also where your greatest growth opportunities lie. The odds are that someone inside your organization already has a great idea for how to grow your company, but are you listening to them? As a leader, it’s up to you to figure out those opportunities before someone else does and one of the easiest ways to do just that – ask your people. What are you doing to tap into the innovation that already exists in your business or your department? Do tell.
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