The Family Business Consulting Group Publishes Article on Innovation for Family Business

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Senior associate of The Family Business Consulting Group, Joe Schmieder, provides a summary of his recently published article, Innovation: The Worst of Times…and the Best of Times.

The Family Business Consulting Group (efamilybusiness.com), recently published Innovation: The Worst of Times…and the Best of Times, an article by FBCG senior associate, Joe Schmieder. In the article, Schmieder addresses innovation for family business.

According to Schmieder, now is an excellent time for a family business to step back and take a look at what is going on in their industries, what the business's unique strengths are (that is, those that cannot be copied by the competition), and how these might be leveraged into new opportunities. What have the customers been complaining about, and how might these complaints be addressed? What do the salespeople describe as the real reason they are unable to win over those prospects, and how might these objections be overcome? What are the suppliers saying about other companies to which they provide products or services, and are there areas where a particular family business is superior to these competitors? Answers to these questions can serve to generate thoughts that can be filtered down to a meaningful list of potential innovation opportunities--be they new products, new markets to serve, or a superior way to manufacture your product or bring it to market.

Beyond generating ideas, companies that successfully produce a steady stream of innovative products and services have a disciplined process for capturing, prioritizing, developing, and commercializing these ideas.

"We have all been exposed to the accomplishments of large companies that are recognized as innovators. 3M created the now-famous Post-it Notes® out of a lab mistake, and Boeing is in the midst of finalizing the game-changing Dreamliner 787," says Schmieder. "Although a 'killer app' product or service can create a whole new product category or change an entire industry, radical innovation is not necessary for most small to medium-sized private companies. Incremental innovation can also drive significant value. Modifying a product, such as by taking a bread slicer and morphing it into a bagel slicer, can extend an entire product line without requiring the risk or investment necessary to expand into a new customer base or market," Schmieder says.

An innovation can also come in the form of a new business model or a different way to go to market. Michael Dell showed the world how to create a made-to-order computer via the Dell website, shrinking lead times and bypassing the retail outlets.

We live in a time when information--what customers want and don't want, what competitors are offering, and what new business models have been tried--is readily available. The challenge is to ask the right questions, create a process for filtering opportunities, and create a culture that fosters and rewards innovation. This turbulent economic period is actually a prime time to spawn new creative ideas because people are more open to change and may need to think outside the box to keep their business afloat. It is an opportunity to capitalize on the new world order that is unfolding in front of us.

About The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc.:
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, The Family Business Consulting Group consists of world renowned consultants committed to helping family businesses prosper across generations. Their experienced consultants and advisors have founded several family business programs at university and non-profit organizations, won awards for their educational, consultative and research activities and, combined, are the most prolific authors in the field.

For more information about The Family Business Consulting Group and its services, contact Ken Bosshart at 770.421.0110 or visit efamilybusiness.com

The copyright on this article is held by The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc. All rights reserved. All forms of reproduction are prohibited. For reprint permission, contact 770.421.0110.

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