Stay relevant. That's the goal. But before CEOs even get to that point, several factors will affect their ability to innovate. Here are a few of the main concerns CEOs have surrounding innovation:
Building an organization with the right people
"It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." - Steve Jobs
CEOs understand that when it comes to innovation, an organization is only as strong as its weakest link. This is why many CEOs place such great emphasis on not rushing the hiring process and thinking about who to bring into their company. You want to hire people with the right attitude and skill set that can easily integrate into the business’s culture and actively contribute to the company and its growth. Most companies should avoid hiring the first prospective hire that checks off all the boxes in your selection criteria. Instead, you should take the time you need to find someone you can trust or risk that you bring on a mediocre employee that ends up as a burden to your organization, rather than an asset.
"Growth demands a temporary surrender of security." - Gail Sheehy
When you look at the space in which businesses operate, it's evident that technology is making the marketplace a much smaller space. Where it was once a painful, slow, and expensive process to import products from overseas, it’s now a few taps away on your smartphone. These advancements have really put the pressure on companies to innovate in a way that lets them reach a global market.
While CEOs understand the world of opportunity this represents, with innovative companies like Uber, Airbnb and Netflix dominating markets around the globe, they also understand that going global is not a simple process. They will need to be prepared to deal with a multitude of challenges, including exchange rate volatility, culture clashes, and the distance between their business and their customers.
The impact of regulations
"You've got to have free markets with limited government, with the proper amount of regulation where you don't jam entrepreneurship..." - John Schnatter
Governments frequently update and change industry regulations, creating a significant headache for CEOs who want to innovate but also need to ensure compliance with different countries’ rules and regulations. While CEOs are concerned about the potential fines they may face if they aren’t compliant, CEOs are also aware that changes in government regulation could have a massive impact on their company’s profits, or even force their business into bankruptcy.
Creating employee relationships based on trust
"Our success is a team effort. I can only do my role as Chairman and CEO if I’m fully supportive and understanding of what everybody else is doing." - Frederick Waddell
CEOs understand that for their companies to be innovative, trusting relationships with your employees are vital. By engaging with all of their employees, giving their workforce the freedom needed to function optimally, and encouraging employee empowerment through goals and skills development, CEOs can create the trust necessary for employees to innovate. If you genuinely believe in innovation, establishing this trust is more important now than ever before, since 63% of employees no longer feel like they can trust their CEOs.
“I am convinced that there are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be.” - Robert S. Mueller
More companies are embracing digital transformation, with many of them taking advantage of the benefits it offers them when it comes to innovation. But digital transformation doesn’t come without a cost. With the increasing reliance on online systems and digital tools, one of the significant risks today is the security of a company's data. This, combined with the fact that the number of hacks is on the rise, means it’s no surprise that CEOs are spending a lot of time thinking about cybersecurity and how they can avoid becoming the next LinkedIn, Sony, or Chipotle.
How can we automate?
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” - Bill Gates
As part of their digital transformation programs, CEOs are looking at tools that can help them automate their business processes. By shifting the tedious, mandatory but simple and easily automated tasks to computers and machines that can handle them, you can create the space needed for employees to focus on what they do best: be creative and solve problems.
These are just a few of the obstacles CEOs are facing when it comes to innovation. If you are a CEO of a marketing company and are interested in finding out more about how to overcome the challenges around innovation in your industry, take a look at The Inbounder Global Conference 2018. Or if you would like more information on the products and services we offer at WAM, contact us today.
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