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By Valerie Stewart, MBA, VP Strategy and Development, Scovan Engineering 

Organizations that don’t keep up with their customers’ needs will die. Sadly, our industry has been slow to evolve and it is now forced to fight for its life. This provocative and incentivizing statement has led many firms to dive into the innovation process. Unfortunately, most jump in without first asking why, how, or what they are seeking to change. Others learn the words to say but then simply hope they can wait out a recession and continue on with what they’ve always done after things pick up again. 

In 1965, the average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 was 33 years. By 1990, it was 20 years. It’s forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026. In fact, its predicted that about 50 percent of the S&P 500 will be replaced over the next 10 years. 

What does all of this mean for leaders and organizational decision-makers? First, it’s a reminder of a general principle: A company cannot endure in the long term without reinventing itself. This means we have to be vigilant for weakening foundations in our business model, or the shifting needs of our customer base. 

But not every innovation needs to be on such a grand scale as the companies that are dominating the S&P 500. Incremental improvements like adjusting an existing design, improving the way teams work, or embracing a different process, or technology can all help progress a company in creating new value. The trick to get started is to answer one simple question: is it safe to try? 

Fresh Fridays new purpose is to provide a training ground that will inspire creativity, challenge people to think fast, empower everyone to take swift action and innovate without dwelling on perfection. 

Innovation doesn’t just happen by itself, it needs to be intentionally part of our culture. We need to be thoughtful in creating an environment that promotes out-of-the-box thinking and a safe environment in which to do it. Fresh Fridays are one of the ways that we have chosen to invest in the future. 

At Scovan and Gemini Fabrications, we are building a 10-year Innovation roadmap and using Fresh Fridays to do this collaboratively. Fresh Fridays contribute to keeping us informed and ahead of the curve on transformative new technologies and energy trends. In addition, Fresh Fridays contribute to our collective culture, promotes engagement and teamwork and develops leaders. 

The Innovation Roadmap is a vision for addressing incremental, transformative and disruptive solutions, predicated on addressing client challenges, using a defined list of criteria to evaluate emerging technologies, embracing a low carbon economy, integrating the cleantech development sector and addressing the rising cost of carbon and regulations like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. 

Over the last year, we have added to the experience by including different guest speakers who have joined the collaborative workshop series to focus on innovation advancement and provide a diverse perspective to our discussions. 

Our Innovation Roadmap will help us define needed solutions, deploy resources, make investment decisions, and ultimately provide greater value to our clients and the energy sector as we work to engage the emerging low carbon economy. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 2