productsI’ve worked with a lot of companies big and small that have been struggling. They’re stymied by the challenges of this economy, and are looking for new ways to achieve growth and customer satisfaction.

But there is hope. Their challenge is to change what the world needs rather than letting the world change them.

That takes innovation.

image001Whether you work for a large manufacturer or are making it on your own, getting your great idea to customers in the marketplace is not easy. It’s like connecting an electrical circuit with multiple components that all need to be in place and in the right order. Furthermore even if you have the right components, that circuit isn’t very useful unless the energy is flowing.

Many executives wrongly believe that innovation is a formula or a program they need to follow. I like to use the circuit analogy to show them that there is no one-size-fits-all innovation plan. I call it “Connecting the Circuit of Innovation,” an approach that yields a customized roadmap that binds together a strategy for marketing with an encompassing intellectual asset (IA) strategy that goes beyond simply getting a patent. And what’s really interesting about innovation is that no two circuits are alike.

In fact, the more of your company’s unique personality you can deliver to your colleagues and customers, the better-suited you’ll be for delivering successful results and growth.

Every company has its own unique design — its DNA if you will — that when used in the right context can propel that company toward success. Disruptive, true innovation looks at the whole package, from your insights, your mission statement and your corporate culture, to even the trends that will impact your company and your customers in the next three to five years.

I’ve met with a lot of executives to show them how to use their DNA to build a comprehensive roadmap for their innovation plan, and it’s like watching the energy begin to flow and the lightbulbs turn on. Once they allow their corporate DNA to shape their plan, they can plainly see the best pathway to pursue, the segments of the market and distribution channels to follow, the companies to partner with and so forth.

This approach doesn’t have to be expensive. There are low-cost intellectual assets you can use to your advantage right away, such as publications, Internet domain names and even YouTube channels that can create a compelling story for your innovative idea.

Once the energy in your circuit is flowing, with a little luck and plenty of hard work you’ll begin to see growth over time that is sustainable.

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