It’s time for innovation leaders to get out of ‘zombie mode’ and claim a strategic position in their organizations.

Many organizations are facing tough times, markets shrinking, profits vanishing and worst of all, some people is leaving the company and the ones remaining need to manage vast amounts of uncertainty.

This scenario is shaping what I like to call “walking dead companies,” which are identifiable by their confused employees who are only able to generate profits that cover structural costs and low-impact initiatives that do not grow the business. So how can we cure this epidemic disease?

The CEO of many organizations faces a big challenge: In most cases, no further structural cost reductions are possible. Only a clever transformation plan can guarantee sustainability. As an innovation leader in your organization, I encourage you to leave the darkness behind and generate some innovative proposals that you can bring to C-suite to help shock the company back to life:

Is your company offering any “me-too” product or services? If so, redeploy some of resources used to support them to develop a new business model.

How do your customers rate your company on a scale of awesomeness? If they say you barely register a pulse, it’s time to kick off some powerful differentiation strategies and pursue radically better consumer experiences.

Before proposing a 180-degree turn, make sure you have deeply explored the opportunities found in any adjacencies to your existing business – markets, industries and customer segments that are similar to those you already serve, which you could expand into without a huge capital outlay. Successes in one or two of these adjacent markets could help give your firm some much-needed momentum and help to bolster its spirit of success.

Explore the benefits of promoting a disruptive innovation mindset

Identify which of your products or services are placed in markets that are in a low stage of maturity, but which are steadily (if slowly) growing. Develop a strategy to strengthen them so that by the time those markets are mature, you’ll have a blockbuster product and growth opportunity on your hands.

Who in your organization isn’t satisfied with operating in “zombie mode?” Identify and enroll them in your innovation efforts wherever possible. Their passion and energy will boost your efforts, and should be a great source of additional innovative ideas.

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.