August 11, 2017

Innovation as Key to Business Victory

Unsurprisingly, any company that wishes to grow should welcome innovation as innovation brings about breakthrough products, increased market share or even higher bottom lines.

A lot of researchers found that most organisations understand the importance of innovation but for a variety of reasons, a great majority of them have been unable or unsuccessfully integrate it into their company cultures.

We rarely hear this admitted by corporate leadership at most companies, but when it comes to true change in implementing innovation, it’s more talk than real practice. Most companies talk about change far more than they actually engage in it and one main reason is because they are afraid of making any change out of fear, of the wrong change or of leaving the safety and comfort of the known.

Partially, we can say that as humans become more assimilated into the processes that govern their company, the intractable inertia against positive change can be overwhelming.

We have to admit that throughout our careers, we are taught to obey the rules, to conform to the opinions and behaviours of others, and to information that supports our views. As time goes by, the pressure grows as we move up the organisational ladder and by the time we reach high-level positions, conformity has been deeply embedded into us that we carry it onto our businesses; hence, we’re building the highly structured management hierarchies.

I’d say in this highly competitive world, it will actually do more harm than good to conform to such status quo as eventually it will blind us from the threat of competition that is younger, more agile; hence, bypass us the opportunities for greater reward.

Why do you think company like Microsoft, Samsung, Apple or Facebook invest so much in creativity and innovation? Do you know that Google formally allows 20% of their employees’ time to think? That says a lot about the value of breakthrough innovation which is done through design thinking. Now let’s ask yourself, how much are you allowing your team to perform real thinking on good solutions to solve the challenges and come up with highly innovative products or services?

In fact, these companies value innovation and creativity so much that they are celebrating failures as means to become successful. Of course when I talk about celebrating failure I don’t mean failure caused by negligent or unprofessional behaviour. I mean failure that comes from trying something different with the intention of finding a better way of serving the customer needs; experimenting, exploring, and finding out what works and what doesn’t.

It’s also important to understand the full implication of the term ‘celebrate failure’. It’s not actually the failure itself that you’re celebrating; it’s the learning that comes from that failure and which moves you closer to the right solution.

It’s important to remember to actually celebrate too. ‘Celebrate’ doesn’t just mean tolerate or ignore failure – it means publicly recognise people for trying something, failing, learning, and trying again. Promote people who do fail and learn over those that play it safe. Some companies even hold parties to celebrate failures – or rather to celebrate moving a step closer to the solution.

Obviously, this could be rather difficult in an Asian culture that traditionally discourages individuality or unconventionality, and fears of losing face that comes with failure. But if leaders like you can become role models and be able to create a culture of curiosity, openness and experimentation, the culture of celebrating failures is certainly conceivable and it will surely be good starting point for companies to become innovative.


Ms. Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading Executive, Leadership and Innovation Capability Development Center.

She can be reached by email at or

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First Published in BangkokPost