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What do Kodak, Blockbuster and Tower Records have in common? They failed to innovate and now they don’t exist. It’s remarkable to think that 88% of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1960 are gone today. As the life expectancy of companies continues to shrink, organisations today need to embrace ambiguity and engage to future-proof our businesses for tomorrow. This is especially true for the engineering and energy innovation sectors, that will likely see unprecedented change over the next 10 years.

Are we the disrupter or the disrupted? We want to engage our clients and emerging sectors to be proactive and seek out new opportunities before others do. In the digital and data economy that we are now in, everyone is connected and well informed about almost everything. Consequently, customer expectations are getting higher and loyalty is short lived in the search for quick and cost effective alternatives. In this new reality, providing a good product is just not good enough anymore. The challenge is to be proactive in advancing disruption, rather than be relegated into reactive mode. Without an innovative approach to our customer data, innovative solutions will be short lived.

Are we actively responsive to the changing clean energy ecosystem? Many regard innovation as something important for the longer term, as developing innovative ideas can take a long time. Emerging drivers such as Environment, Sustainability Governance (ESG), the escalating cost of carbon in Canada and the implications of a fast approaching low carbon economy have shifting urgency closer to the near term. Being a successful innovation change agent starts now, by becoming an innovative organization that quickly advances incremental solutions that lay the ground work for company culture changes, setting the stage for looking further into the future.

Initiate, cultivate and engage are at the intersection of the innovation mindset.

Are we taking leadership to be smart, agile and resilient? Initiative that shifts attitudes and expectations to embrace risk is essential in innovative entities. We need to love our customers problems more than we love the technologies that solves these problems. Companies centred on client challenges, that are focused on continuous learning and a robust delivery cycle, that constantly measures, reports and shares on an ongoing basis, and that integrates multi-sided business models to close the gap across the ideation, design and delivery sequence are better able to be resilient and adapt to the future.

Are we a corporate culture that is always morphing to embraces challenges, risk and ambiguity? Culture that creates a stimulating, vibrant and challenging work environment motivates people to go beyond the norm. While ideas are only as good as they are actionable, innovation is not a department. Cultivating cross disciplinary internal talent to embrace new ideas, knowledge and skills, be creative and recognize the importance customer centricity has in ideation is central to becoming an innovation entity.

Written by: Jeff Reading, Director Innovation, Scovan Engineering