In any field, but particularly in the area of technology, business owners realize that their very survival is based on looking ahead and coming up with fresh, innovative products.
But maintaining your current business and finding the time and even resources to work on new ideas is challenging. Hence, any spark of innovation a CEO may have often gets pushed to the side.
This type of inaction has a significant cost. What is running your business today may become obsolete and end your business tomorrow…and that is something that nobody wants. So how do you grow the future of your business and still manage the present?
A professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Vijay Govindarajan, has come up with an organizational method to help CEOs develop innovation in their business.
In an interview by the Harvard Business Review, Vijay explains his concept of the three boxes, and how a CEO must take everything that they do and put it into three boxes.
Below are brief descriptions of each box and how it’s applied to developing innovation.
Box 1 – Mange the present: The obvious challenge with this box is that companies focus the most on the present and, unfortunately, limit themselves.
Box 2 – Selectively abandon the past: Vijay states that this box poses the biggest problem for businesses. He explains that, “You have to forget your strengths.” It does sound a bit strange initially. Yet it makes sense because he clarifies that the reason you must do this is that “your future weaknesses are embedded in your current strengths.”
Box 3 – Create the future: Vijay describes this box as a place where “you have to forget your dominant logic.” However, CEO’s still have a business to run and have to be engrossed in their current business. And here is where the conflict in thought and struggle in implementing new ideas comes in. You have to plant the seeds to the future and hire the talent for tomorrow.
The simplicity of the “Three Boxes” concept creates a shift in thinking because now you have a powerful organizational tool to sort out your thoughts and future steps to create a branch of their business that is looking toward something new on the horizon.
You can read more details in his book “The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation.”
The dream team: It’s clear that there needs to be a separate department within a company that handles the creation and implementation of new ideas. But what kind of worker do you need to hire to create this department?
Vijay says CEOs need to hire mavericks. These are individuals that have wild “out-there” ideas and most likely don’t get along with people. Once again sounds a bit off because no one wants to deal with workplace drama.
But these are the people that you need to develop to look to the future and to work through unknown terrain. Vijay warns that there will be tension between the new and the old, and that trying to implement new ideas does result in failure. But that’s where the CEO needs to come in and remind everyone why looking to the future and the current business are so important.
Start at the top: A CEO is responsible for current and future business. They need to be brave as they venture into the unknown future of their business. That’s exactly why a good team and strong leadership can create phenomenal results.
Handling the affairs of a company is not easy. However, the power and sheer simplicity of Vijay’s concept makes the ability to be innovative accessible to busy CEOs. This gives companies the ability to preserve their future by introducing a way to create innovation in their business.
What are some other resources, books, videos or courses that help drive innovation? Please list your favorites below!
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