Four keys to innovation while staying focused on today’s revenue


Scott Cook, legendary founder of Intuit, discussed in a recent issue of Inc Magazine how today’s entrepreneurs can continue to incubate new ideas while successfully focusing on today’s day-to-day revenue generation.  His answer can be broken down into four keys to achieving both innovation and execution today:

Make sure employees know which output metric they are responsible for and how it is measured.  Focus on the metrics that matter most to growing the business (new customers, margin, top-line growth).  These measures will ensure proper focus on today’s business, and will also give employees a foundation from which to brainstorm and incubate new ideas focused on the same end-goal.

Enable all of your employees – not just a small group – to invest business ideas or product features.  Don’t predetermine which employees – based on rank or tenure or paycheck – will have your business’s next great innovation.  Oftentimes, it’s the frontline employees who speak with your customers all day, every day who are first to see trends and identify new opportunities.

Run cheap, quick tests to make sure you are on the right track.  The first step could be running the idea back by a few customers to gauge their feedback.  But don’t overthink these tests.  Get enough feedback to hone the idea and mitigate risk/exposure of taking it to the next step.

Think big!  For innovations to succeed, they must solve a large enough problem for the customer.  This doesn’t mean that every innovation is a new product, or new division, or fundamental shift in your business.  It just means, to succeed, innovations need to make a profound impact on the customer.  That impact can still be created by relatively small changes in policy, features, supply chain and more.