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Innovate in order to advance in your organization, the industry

The final keynote of the 2014 IHRSA Institute was Prof. Christopher Bingham’s Entrepreneurship Session on innovation. He stressed the importance of innovation in the health and fitness industry as a way to succeed and not become passé. 

Areas covered in “Capturing New Opportunities for Growth and Profitability” included why innovation is so important and how innovation can add new members, help make fitness a lifestyle, keep staff motivated, and how to deal with competition by using innovation.

Innovation can be simplified in four areas of what he called the Congruence Model – structure, culture, people and tasks – and when done correctly they work together and off the other.

“Innovation creates congruence between people, culture, tasks and structure,” said Bingham, associate professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

The Institute was held Aug. 5-8 at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. It was the first time it was offered after a five-year absence.

He started out with Structure. He included routines, rules and policies in this area and said that too much of one thing is not the best route. He suggested creating simple rules that have boundaries, priorities and time attached to them.

Diversity was a key principle for People. Having different perspectives made team decisions easier, so those in similar areas didn’t just jump on their colleagues’ suggestions. “It’s like cross-training in your organization,” he said, making a reference those in attendance can relate to.

Tasks can be challenging, because, really, who enjoys doing them? Bingham advised at making them challenging and interesting. Everyone can stretch and reach higher at what they say is their best effort. He added that allowing experimentation is a smart move.

“Let the users who are passionate about the industry drive the industry,” he said. “By experimenting you invest a little but learn a lot.”

Culture is all about being accepting and having an open mind. Bingham said actively brainstorming is a great way to innovate. He listed a few ideas:

  • defer judgment
  • encourage wild ideas
  • build on other ideas
  • stay focused an on topic
  • be visual
  • go for quantity
  • one conversation at a time

Prof. Christopher Bingham's Congruence ModelBingham said that all four parts of the Congruence Model need to be employed in some way in order for innovation to work.

“The four parts feed off of each other,” he explained. “They need the others in order to work.”

For complete coverage, go to IHRSA Live. For all of the photos, visit the IHRSA Flickr page.

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