Changes happen so rapidly and so often, that innovation has turned into a critical and fundamental strategic business need. It is the only competitive component left that can drive sustainability. Living now in the “Disruption, Digitization and Connection Age,” a business’s consideration should be on both improving versatility, innovativeness, creativity and in the meantime, client empathy.

Jose Duarte, a lifelong entrepreneur and successful businessman from Costa Rica, understands how innovation can help maintain the proper momentum of an organization to ensure it can adapt with the times. He shares the best eight reasons why innovation is imperative to a business.

Innovation is basically introducing a change that adds value. An entrepreneur has to be able to see, sense and perceive new opportunities and then solve them in creative and unique ways that can enhance people’s lives. This implies developing additional senses, such as the ability to recognize the possibility, necessity and wonder, to produce a solution that can be beneficial to the consumer market.

The current business environments – as well as personal – are rapidly becoming more volatile and uncertain. This is fueled by a number of factors, including social and technological changes. At the same time, businesses still need to grow, become more competitive and increase efficiencies.

This requires agility to understand innovation and continue to push it forward. As Duarte points out, “It requires the talent to recognize and shift a certain manner of thinking or doing that can disrupt the status quo, create new opportunities and use intelligent decisions to solve problems.”

Entrepreneurship is turning into a worldwide endeavor and is becoming particularly more noticeable in developing markets. Innovation enables, and subsequently drives, entrepreneurship. It allows individuals to take control over their own lives, while contributing to the creation of new or improved ecosystems and providing for economic growth.

In the book, “Blue Ocean Shift” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, the authors point out that there are no companies that are successful and sustainable forever. Research and innovation are needed to make strategic moves that will create “blue oceans” of business disruption and open new markets. This is leading to a paradigm shift toward the development of blue oceans that are built around agile methodologies to innovate and increase the endeavor’s value to the customer.

These methodologies can be enhanced through the use of “Scrum,” a method for breaking large projects into smaller segments that can be reviewed and adapted throughout the life of the project. As a certified Scrum Master, Duarte has routinely incorporated the principles of Scrum to manage work on complex products since shortly after it was created in the early 1990s.

The progress of digitization empowered to a great extent by the Internet of Things (IoT) has made the association and sharing of information between computerized devices, from household gadgets to vehicles. This network and the subsequent aggregate pooling of information is making completely new plans of action and income streams, both for new businesses and already-established organizations that use existing resources in energizing, gainful new ways.

Duarte also points out that people matter. By concentrating on building up a more constructive organizational atmosphere and developing a culture of innovation where individuals matter and their maximum capacity is encouraged, the business will prosper.

“It is important,” says Duarte, “to recognize the importance of making members of an organization matter. These days, employees – the source of talent and customers in a business – want to have more of a say in how they are treated and how the business operates.” This ultimately leads to an environment that is more innovative and can help the business become sustainability for decades.

Lastly, Duarte indicates that the ability to anticipate and mitigate risks in relation to future trends while focusing on the responses to those risks, will allow an entrepreneur to continuously evolve the organization in a manner consistent with positive growth. “It helps to be passionate,” says Duarte. “You have to have a sense of urgency to innovate and develop clear strategic plans. If you can think and act differently, you will make a difference in the world.”

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