One thing that all bosses and leaders have in common is they never stop learning. And that includes from other people running companies. Tomas Gorny is the CEO of Nextiva, and has been in that position for the last ten years. During his tenure, he has led the company through the cloud revolution into the powerhouse it is today.

But he has learned a lot about promoting real innovation and the importance of innovation in the first place. Between 2006-2008, when Nextiva was innovating, it had the benefit of being in a business where only 9% of companies were active innovators. This guide is going to show you how Tomas Gorny went about promoting innovation in his company, and how you can do the same with yours.

Speed Trumps All

The concept of innovation is about taking your products and improving them, but you're not just making minor changes you are turning them into something that has never been seen before. Even before Nextiva grew, Gorny always concentrated on the idea of innovation. He wanted to make sure that the company was always pushing to do more.

But the key to this was speed. No matter how big or small you are you are always competing with others. You have to keep in mind that you are always competing with people trying to do the same as you, and they may have better talent and more resources.

Rather than giving up, you should setup a team to innovate. Don't worry about the specifics in the beginning. Think outside the box and constantly work to make these big ideas a reality.

Be Willing to Listen to All

You may think that the best ideas are always going to come from your managers and the leaders of various departments. The fact is the majority of organizations are filled with talented people who have lots of great ideas. You are reducing the pool of potential ideas by not encouraging everyone to come up with new ideas and to implement them within the company.

What Gorny did was to encourage employees to come forward with any ideas they had. They wouldn't be able to give the ideas to the manager and then they would gain all the credit. The employee was considered an equal part of Nextiva, and they were properly treated as a result.

If you are willing to look past traditional hierarchies, there's no reason why you can't come up with ideas that go far beyond what you would normally expect. Don't underestimate someone just because they happen to have just joined your company and they are sitting on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Use Technology

The fact that Nextiva has achieved such success under Gorny is because the entire business is based on the idea of making technology work. This is your top innovation weapon. When it comes to innovation, technology is the heart of everything. It's what speeds up the normal process.

Embrace new technology and don't groan because you have to change your systems around and invest. By becoming an early adopter, you are always going to have an advantage over most of your competitors. The vast majority of companies are not early adopters, and they suffer for it as a result.

Look to Adjacent Industries

The world's most innovative companies are characterized by adjacent innovation. It's about looking at industries next to yours and then using them to elevate yourself. It's why over time new industries tend to have fewer niches. They are gobbled up by innovators bringing multiple features and products together.

Gorny did exactly the same with Nextiva because he saw that while there were a lot of companies focusing on cloud computing there weren't a lot of companies looking at the cloud phone. This meant that he saw an opening and he began to redirect the company's services towards this niche.

Customers had their needs fulfilled and they were delighted with the outcome. It meant that Gorny redirected the company's efforts and it fostered growth.

Too many companies are obsessed with sticking to their guns. But smart CEOs realize that a company's growth path isn't linear and it will change over time. You have to be willing to change.

Last Word

Innovation is a process that never ends and you have to be prepared to continue this process whether things are going well or not. You need to talk to your customers and ask what they want. The best companies continue to innovate regardless of the times, and that's the main takeaway any CEO should get from this article.

How will you innovate in your company?

Published on: Mar 31, 2016