Comfort Does Not = Innovation
Also, don’t forget innovation within agencies can be centered around processes as well. It’s not always going to be a strategy, a new creative approach or a new way of using information or understanding information. An agency can develop an innovation that creates efficiency, enabling a lower cost to do work, a way for a client to get to market faster, achieve results faster, etc.
But one thing is clear — from the executive level down — individuals in the organization have to be held accountable for innovation and associated goals. But don’t only track things on the surface like expense savings, ROI and efficiency. Rate your agency on its ability to drive innovation. Create goals around the introduction of new products or services over a specific period of time (i.e., two or three years), create goals around the amount of time staff are spending toward innovation through time tracking and outcome tracking, and last but not least create goals around the percent of revenue growth that is coming from the introduction of new products and services.
In a world where success is often defined by how much better you are than your competition, not innovating is the fastest way to fail.
After spending 2.5 decades in the nonprofit industry, I still really dislike the word “nonprofit.” Let’s face it — profit is net revenue after all expenses are covered, right? Nonprofits want net revenue and try to improve net revenue every day. They just spend their “profits” differently than the commercial world. They invest that profit into their missions. Yet, while in pursuit of profits, their philosophy around driving greater profits is very different.
Most nonprofits do not find it easy to accept the commercial philosophy of “invest to grow.” But, it’s not totally the fault of the nonprofit. With the watchdog environment and media just waiting to jump on a story about how a nonprofit’s fundraising ratio has gone up or how it spent $XX in a specific campaign to only raise $YYY, can you blame an organization for not taking risk or allowing donor dollars to be spent on innovation that has a high likelihood of not succeeding? In the marketplace’s goal to hold charities accountable for how they spend money, the marketplace may be actually stifling the ability to drive greater funds to achieve the mission faster or better.