The launch last month of our new initiative entitled the Wasatch Innovation Network caused my reflection on the meaning of innovating and changing for the better. Creative engagement is the hallmark of a growing business — dynamic, customer focused, and ready to adapt in an ever-changing market environment. 

Most businesses are engaged in two competitive landscapes, the macro environment of global forces influencing and changing the broader economy and the proximate market that represents a company’s space in an industry with certain advantages and weaknesses in relation to direct competitors. To succeed innovation must be a core value and part of an organization’s strategy in both arenas.

This becomes even more important in dealing with conditions beyond our control. In the midst of the global pandemic innovation has become king as companies have reinvisioned missions, processes and even the technologies and services that will guide their future. A good example of this is Amazon’s principle to Invent and Simplify. Under this credo, “Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by ‘not invented here.’” According to Amazon, as they innovate, they “accept that (they) may be misunderstood for long periods of time.” 

Watching the Wasatch Innovation Network grow into the future will provide ample opportunity for companies through Utah to assess how their organization is focused on or prioritizing innovation strategies. Research shows that committing to innovation is key to gaining competitive advantage.

The late American economist William Baumol claimed that nearly all the economic growth over the last three centuries was the result of deliberate innovation — one concept driving economic growth and prosperity for every industry, as well as human progress for more than 300 years. 

The race for competitiveness and market share requires our best efforts to support free market innovation. Companies with dynamic cultures but no innovation teams can begin now to request employees to serve on an innovation team or committee. Corporations can empower these individuals to work with employees and customers to ideate and create new processes, technologies, lateral partnerships with other innovative companies, and new segments to serve. 

Since the launch of the Wasatch Innovation Network there has been an outpouring of support from leaders and businesses in the community. If you missed the announcement but would like to ignite your thinking on innovation please go to our website to get more information, and join what will quickly become the most creative group of leaders doing business in Utah.