How Are You Promoting Innovation in Your Services Firm?

Customer first for innovation

You are feeling good! Your firm is making progress: revenue is increasing, profits are growing, customer and client retention is working, you’re getting referrals, and your financials look good.

Why rock the boat with innovations? Why redirect resources to innovation when things are going well?

I completed a consulting engagement with a firm that’s a leader in its industry. In fact, it’s a Fortune 50 company. And they spent several weeks demonstrating to me how they continuously redirect their resources to innovation even though, by every measure, they are doing well.

I asked the Vice President of Trends and Innovations for the key to their success. His answers? “Relationships. Being aware of the ongoing needs, wants and desires of our clients and customers, by listening, listening, listening. By promoting innovation in every product or service line, every department and every location.”

Your privately owned services firm may not have a Vice President of Trends and innovations, but you can replicate this approach to promoting innovation. Talk to and listen to your clients and customers.

PROMOTE innovation and redirect some resources to it.

How to Promote Innovation

You’ll notice my choice of the word “promote.” This is purposeful. Promoting innovation in ongoing.

  • You need to create an environment where innovation is encouraged.
  • Where innovative ideas are not dismissed out of hand.
  • Where taking a few hours per week to think about and investigate innovation is welcomed and rewarded.

Innovation that pays is typically innovation that meets the needs, wants, and desires of current clients.

How will you know their needs, wants, and desires? You have to ask them, not once, but regularly. And not through anonymous tech-based surveys or online reviews (Yelp? Really?), but through personal conversations with the best of your clients. You have to let them know you really want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Five-star reviews feel really great but all they do is confirm that what you’re doing today is working.

You need to find out “what else?” and you can only do that by asking questions and being open to what you hear.

Innovation is The Outcome of Relationships

What? You mean sitting in a room or on zoom with the dictate to brainstorm innovations isn’t the way to innovate? Or jumping on a prevailing bandwagon to get ahead of the competition isn’t innovation? Or sending a customer satisfaction survey won’t lead to innovation?


Talking to real clients, exploring freely, throwing potential ideas out there, getting honest responses, listening deeply—that’s how your firm will innovate.

Clients are amazingly eager to tell you how you can help them or serve them even more—if you only sincerely ask them.

Promoting Innovation Works

In the past several months many of our clients have invested their energy in these conversations. The most successful conversations—ones that prompted innovation—were warm and friendly. No list of ten questions. No feedback forms. No quotas or goals to meet. Just real conversations between people that have some common ground and a desire to help and to be helped.

And transparency! “We’re grateful for your business and we’d love to hear more about your other or new needs, wants and desires. We’re committed to innovating in ways that put our current valuable clients first. Would you help?”

About 95% of clients said “yes” and had lively and creative conversations with the firms. Innovations are being offered almost daily across the spectrum.

How are you promoting innovation at your firm, even though you’re making steady progress to your goals?

If you think it’s worth exploring your thoughts with me, just text IDEAS to 703-801-0345 and we’ll set up a call.


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