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A CEO’s Guide To Investing In Corporate Innovation In 2021

Leading Edge Only
24 Aug, 2021
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Mark Zuckerberg. Satya Nadella. Abigail Johnson. Jeff Bezos. Sundar Pichai. Bill Gates. Elon Musk. Meg Whitman.

What do all of these names have in common? They’re all business legends, hugely successful CEOs who have taken their businesses to great heights. They are the success stories that people can only hope to come close to, which is why their advice and guidance is invaluable. Their actions are underpinned by one overarching principle: innovation. 

Innovation is at the core of every great business, and neatly summarises the decisions of every great CEO. No one describes this better than Edith Widder, a marine biologist, oceanographer and CEO of the Ocean Research And Conservation Association. She said:

“Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring”

– Edith Widder, CEO, ORCA. 

Her inspiring words are just the beginning. In this article we want to highlight the importance of investing in innovation, and of sourcing innovation for your corporation in 2021. We have collated the information you need to take your business to the next level, reinforced by the words of wisdom of the CEOs that have taken the world by storm, reinvented the wheel and made their mark. 

If you’re an aspiring CEO, or simply looking for some words of wisdom, then this is a must-read. At Leading Edge Only, we are well versed in all things innovation - we understand its importance, and it’s time you do too. We help businesses with a challenge to source innovations and solutions, and now we want to help you to navigate corporate innovation in 2021.

Stay tuned for the end of the article. Scott Sharp, Founder and CEO here at LEO, will be imparting some words of wisdom that are guaranteed to transform your approach to business.

 

Your Role As The CEO

Before you begin investing in corporate innovation, you need to understand the role of a CEO. You need to have an intuitive sense of your motivations, aspirations and responsibilities. Not only will this help you to make effective business decisions, but it will also enable you to operate efficiently in the workplace, and earn the respect that you deserve - from your peers, employees, competitors and customers. 

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”

– Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple. 

The role of the CEO is intrinsically linked to investing in innovation. This is because, before you can source innovation, and use it to take your business to the next level, you must understand why you want to innovate and what you want to achieve. There are extensive benefits for investing in innovation, for both you and your business - we’ll be unpacking all of these things in this article - but feel free to jump ahead

Instead of looking for reasons to start investing in innovation, why not try to think of reasons to not. 

“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” 

– Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.

 

Corporate Innovation 101

Understanding your role as CEO regarding innovation is only the beginning. It’s important that you know what corporate innovation is, what it means in a business context and how you can use it to execute decisions and strategies that have the potential to engender exponential growth. 

There are three kinds of corporate innovation:

Product Innovation

Product innovation refers to the design, development and introduction to the market of a good or service that is new or improved. This means that it is addressing a gap, failure or lack in the marketplace. 

A great example of product innovation is the iPhone. Apple releases a new model almost twice a year, a decision that was undoubtedly made by their current CEO, Tim Cook. The regularity of these releases highlights that, in the background, Apple is constantly looking at ways to innovate and improve, so that their new models are better in some way. 

In 2007, the first iPhone had 16gb, and the single, rear-facing camera was of a very low quality. Now, in 2021, we have the iPhone 12 Pro Max, with 256gb of data, 5g and front and back cameras boasting a high quality that puts some dedicated cameras to shame. So it’s safe to say, product innovation is a hugely effective business strategy. 

Process Innovation

Process innovation refers to the means by which a good or service is manufactured, produced, distributed or delivered. It is composed of tools, technologies and a whole range of other factors, which come together to make a streamlined process.

The most well-known example of process innovation is the assembly line, as pioneered by Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. The introduction of the assembly line enabled the mass-production of vehicles, revolutionising the manufacturing process as we know it today. 

Business Model Innovation 

Business model innovation concerns the implementation of widespread change, throughout the entirety of a business. This includes creating a new business structure, creating new business channels and building new positions within the business that allow for greater creativity and flexibility. 

An example of this is the business model of Rolls Royce. They manufacture engines, and instead of selling them for a large sum of money to airlines, as was their previous practice, they now sell operating hours, with the engines still belonging to Rolls Royce. This was a business model innovation that proved hugely beneficial for all parties involved. For Rolls Royce, as they continue to make a large amount of money, and for airlines, as even smaller airlines can now afford to use these engines.

Through product innovation, process innovation and business model innovation, CEOs can successfully reap the rewards of their hard work and strategic thought. 

 

Why Should You Be Investing In Innovation In 2021?

As a CEO, it is your responsibility to:

  • Make pivotal decisions.
  • Oversee operations and resources.
  • Communicate with stakeholders and the board of directors.
  • Steer your business towards success, by meeting your KPIs.

Every business is different, but most KPIs are the same. By investing in innovation, you can expedite your goals and stay agile in the ever changing climate of the 21st century. 

Expedite Growth

As a CEO, one of your priorities is often looking for ways to grow your business. This includes extending your reach, increasing your service offering, and having the internal team and resources that can make this happen. Investing in innovation can help to significantly expedite growth, especially when it comes to business model innovation, as these are the thoughtful decisions that have a prolonged and profound impact. 

Surpass The Competition 

The marketplace is hugely competitive, which means that your business needs to prove itself over and over again. The only way to be successful, and come out ahead of your competitors, is by trying new things and using your offering to fulfil gaps in the market. By positioning yourself as an innovator, you will quickly be recognised as a thought leader, and a force to be reckoned with, within your industry. 

Boost Brand Reputation

How your brand is perceived by other people is hugely important. Whether this is customers, potential customers or competitors, it is important that your brand is always placing its best foot forward. Innovation is incredibly appealing, as it suggests that you are doing something different - which is exactly what people love to support. Investing in innovation is something that you can capitalise upon, and use to your advantage when it comes to marketing your brand. 

Create Networking Opportunities 

From sourcing innovation to implementing innovation, there are a whole host of networking opportunities. This is because it is your chance to speak to some of the greatest minds, creators and investors, in order to have the best end product or service. It is likely that investing in innovation will open up even more opportunities once it is on the market, as if it is truly something new and exciting, people will want you to talk about it. Thus, you can capitalise on the growing momentum, and appear on podcasts, panels and so on. 

Improve Talent Acquisition 

In this same vein, an innovative business is likely to have access to a greater pool of talent. The most innovative businesses attract the top talent as individuals want to work for a business where they can have the greatest impact and implement their big ideas. Investing in innovation demonstrates that this is something that you are equally passionate about. As a wise woman once said:

"...it's about the people. Getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment, and helping to find a way to innovate”

– Marissa Mayer, Former CEO, Yahoo. 

Greater Profitability 

Product innovation, process innovation and business model innovation all lead to success, because they encourage customer retention. Offering the newest and best product or solution makes you the first and obvious choice for first and future purchases. This in turn results in greater profitability, as you have a constant stream of people that are interested in what you have to offer. This profitability is only heightened by your production processes; the more effective, cost-saving and streamlined they are, the more you save and the more you earn in the long run. 

And it all begins when you start sourcing innovation. 

 

How To Begin Sourcing Innovation For Business Growth

There are three key steps to investing in innovation.

  1. Ideation.
  2. Selection.
  3. Execution. 

To put it simply, you begin with ideas. No concept is too crazy, as this is your opportunity to think outside of the box and reach beyond your limits. You can begin sourcing innovation from the outset, look for innovative solutions to existing problems, or innovative ideas that challenge or extend your current offering. Then, select a single idea. You can bounce it around, flesh it out, see what you need to make it a reality. And finally, you use the manpower and resources at your disposal to bring your vision to life. 

You’ll know that you are working in the right direction, and that you are speaking to the right people, when you begin to see positive results, and start to discuss realities rather than hypotheticals. 

Once you’ve found an idea, the rest follows through seamlessly. So where do you find innovation? How do you source innovation and hold onto it? 

Some of our favourite places for sourcing innovation include:

  • Academia.
  • Trend-spotters.
  • Customer feedback.
  • Where you least expect it.
  • And of course, right here at Leading Edge Only. 

 

Sourcing Innovation With Leading Edge Only

Leading Edge Only is the best and easiest way to begin investing in innovation. We are highly experienced in catering to the needs and requirements of CEOs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders. Through our services, you can source innovation from some of the brightest minds across the globe, with no stress, no fuss and no red flags.

Promote Your Business Challenge

With LEO, you can promote your business challenge to over 16,000 world-class entrepreneurs. This includes academics, specialists, entrepreneurs and more.

Showcase Your Business Innovations 

Investing in innovation goes both ways. If you already have an innovation in mind, but need the connections, resources and budget to begin production, then we can help you to make it happen. There is a whole community at your fingertips, with our innovation services

Connect With Potential Partners

Every CEO knows that networking is the holy grail within the business world. It is how you can find investors, spark joint ventures and even find mentorship, to help you navigate the challenges that come your way. We can help you to meet and collaborate with like-minded individuals that share the same values and overarching goals. You couldn’t be in better company, with our partners!

Our unique services can help you to begin your innovation journey. Leading Edge Only is the platform that every CEO needs, to make investing in innovation as simple and streamlined as possible. It is a proven means of expediting growth, skyrocketing profitability and so much more. But don’t just take our word for it - take it from Scott Sharp, a CEO that understands the power and necessity of innovation, above all other areas of business investment. 

At the core of any successful business is innovation. You just have to know how to tap into it - and that’s where we come in.

– Scott Sharp, CEO, Leading Edge Only.

 

How Can LEO Help?

If you believe that you would benefit from our services, then you’re in the right place. Register your business today, and reap the benefits of a dedicated innovation platform. 

If you have any questions, or would like any further information, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. A member of our friendly team will be more than happy to assist in any way that they can. Simply get in touch by completing an online form, phoning +44 (0)1234 756 015 or emailing [email protected].  

And if you are interested in reading more about the power of innovation, then be sure to take a look at our other articles
In particular, you may be interested in articles such as “How To Develop Your Innovation Strategy: From Idea To Investment” and  “How To Find Investors For Your Business”.