One of the hottest buzzwords now in business is “innovation.” We’re constantly hearing how it’s the key to not just disruption but mere survival in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.

Yet, many of the professionals that I’m talking with may have a slightly erroneous viewpoint of what innovation really is.

Innovation is not reserved solely for start-ups, nor is it necessarily chaotic for you or your organization.

As I’ve written about previously, the Taylor family in St. Louis was starting a business where they were retailing an identical product to their larger competition. To differentiate themselves, they made a list of every point of contact that a customer would have with every player in their industry. Then, they decided to do ONE THING differently.

In other words, innovation was not about doing EVERYTHING uniquely — it was about executing at ONE POINT distinctively.


As you probably know, the Taylor family was entering the rental car business — where the Ford I get from Hertz is identical to the one I would receive from Avis. They named their small leasing business “Enterprise Rent-A-Car” and, of course, decided they would come to the customer, rather than make the customer come to them to get the automobile.

“At Enterprise, we pick you up!” was the innovation that changed the game.

And, if we think about it, other companies took that innovation and made it their point of creativity, as well. For example, Amazon first said, “What if we delivered the book to the customer, rather than make the customer come to a bookstore to get the product?”

Uber wondered, “What if the car came to the passenger, rather than make the passenger stand on a curb and hail the cab?”

Creativity is one of the Four Cornerstones of Distinction. To execute creativity and innovation in your business or career, you don’t have to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

You just need to focus on what is traditional or standard in your industry. Then, select ONE ASPECT of that you can innovate on — and execute for the benefit of your customers.

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