by Jim Feldman | February 17, 2013
People cringe at the thought of change and the challenge of innovation. They are disruptive and frequently painful. That’s why so many incentive and performance improvement organizations concentrate on “continuous improvement.” It’s a process that is essential for ongoing success, but it offers limited results. 

Embracing change and fostering innovation, on the other hand, is the best way to achieve significant results, rise above the competition and secure a place in the top tier of your industry. 

My goal is to help you do that in two ways. First, I want to talk about the trends I see and build scenarios to help you determine what these may mean for the future of your business. These observations will help you create effective strategies that will allow you to deal with our current economic environment. Secondly, I want to show you ways to leverage these specific trends and general change in the market through innovative thinking, so you’re the disruptor, not the disrupted. 

Here are my top five changes for every incentive organization that wants to succeed in 2013: 

1. Embrace and Leverage New Technologies 
Advances in technology and its application offer a continuous stream of new ways to connect our clients and reach new prospects. Consider everything. Something may not be right for you, but that doesn’t mean everything is wrong. Lots of people dismissed Pinterest as the latest time drain, and it probably was for many. But hotels and meeting venues have found that it’s a great way to showcase their facilities and reach new markets. Group incentive planners now use Pinterest to embrace these changes in communications technology to tell their story, build your brand and enhance client relations. 

2. Focus on Current Customers
It’s not just about attracting new clients. There is tremendous opportunity in doing more business with existing clients. It is always easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you in the past, so match what you offer to what each client is buying and fill in the holes. Find new products and services to offer and use new technologies to deliver more relevant and timely information.

3. Use Joint Ventures 
Joint ventures offer a fast way to grow, and one that has a higher potential of success than going it alone. Beyond the ability to share and leverage resources, whether they be perishable inventories or staff time, you get a quick way to offer more products and services to your existing clients and the instant endorsement of your venture partner that swings open the doors to new prospects. 
 
4. Delegate to Achieve More
You’re good at what you do, but are you good at everything that needs to be done? Look at the tasks involved in achieving your objectives and decide which you can do, which you want to do and which are better handled by others. Stop diluting your effectives by doing too much. And stop diluting the quality of what you offer by doing things that others can do better for you. It’s all about focus.

5. Foster a Climate that is Open to Innovation and Creativity
Reward your people for finding the "innovative solution" and for "thinking creatively.". Remember, though, that as you encourage your people to display innovation and creativity, there will be mistakes. This is part of the process, so don’t punish people when they make them. Instead, acknowledge them, learn from them, and try again.  When it is understood and accepted that mistakes are part of the process, and will be seen my management as such, people will be more open to take risks and think in new directions. Remember, failure and innovation are related. Success only comes when you learn from failure. 

It’s not only the right attitude but also action that will make Shift Happen in 2013.

Jim Feldman helps organizations achieve innovation, as well as remain viable and competitive, while optimizing financial success. For more information, please visit his website at www.shifthappens.com.