Innovation Why Bother

As a judge of these awards, I have noticed several trends that may indicate that the innovative efforts by facility professionals may not be deriving optimum benefit for their facilities. If this is true for those who enter the Nova7Awards competition, it may be even more true, and more of a serious loss, for those fitness centers whose professionals do not enter.

Why is innovation valuable to a business?

Innovationis valuable because it enables you to leap ahead of competitors, instead of competing head-to-head. Also, innovation is the only way your club can adapt to changing times. Fail to adapt, and fail to live. One challenge of innovatingis overcoming the short-term costs of innovation to benefit from the long-term payoffs. Anyone seeking to contain costs might eliminate the budget and culture for innovation, as it may seem wasteful. But, in the long run, innovation is essential for survival.

Once a business has its feet on the ground, the primary reasons for failure are cash flow management problems and lack of innovation. The best-run businesses leap ahead during recessions because they don’t cut innovation during the slow-down. Thus, their innovative engine is running in high gear, and, when the economy turns, they get a big head start.

Innovation, historically, has occurred in the industry in two ways. The first way in which innovation is driven is by those outside the industry, which may undermine the industry. (The interstate highway system undermined the railroads, which hardly realized the threat.) The second way is through the innovation ofa single business, which jumps ahead of all others in the industry. (The Crunch Fitness chain did this with creative programming.)

The 2003 Nova7Awards entries
Few entries for the 2003 Nova7Awardscompetition were truly innovative to the business world. Mostly, the innovations were applications of innovations already in place in other industries. This is a fairly safe way to innovate, and can have a high payoff, since a trial run has already been conducted, albeit in another industry.

More important than brand-new innovations, few of the entrantsconducted a rigorous assessment or reporting of the customer-effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of their innovations. They simply reported their opinion about how it impacted customers and costs.

There was little to no information from the members or users of the innovation.

Once an innovation is launched, the champions of that innovation almost universally assume it is customer effective and cost effective. Just like new parents think their child is the most beautiful child in the world, “parents” of innovations stand for no criticism of their newborn. The lack of rigorous analysis of an innovation prevents learning about how to improve it, and may keep an innovation alive that is not truly effective. In fact, without rigorous thinking, the best new ideas should not be implemented.

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