Over the past year or so there have been more and more lists available online as to “how to do innovation”. Since the world is becoming extremely sound-bite driven and people are trying to perform multiple jobs simultaneously, this is probably the inevitable result.
If you are charged with, or interested in approaches to delivering new value to the market (aka innovation) you may want to consider these following thoughts:
1. The Customer, The Customer, The Customer
- You are creating things for customers. Everything else is in support of this aim. When you watch your customers it is critical to identify their social, cultural, physical, cognitive and emotional drivers to find problems and issues your firm can help customers (aka people) to overcome.
2. Do what is natural
- Existing companies have histories and cultures. When looking for customer problems to solve, work in a way that is natural for both for you and your company.
3. Don’t hire MBAs
- Business education is good for a number of things, but inventing the next new thing isn’t one of them. Hire sociologists, anthropologists, and dreamers instead. Stay away from accountants, investment bankers and attorneys and save them for later.
4. It is about creating the future
- You can’t prove the future and stop proving the past. Focus on what is coming next. The future will get here regardless.
5. Stop asking people what they want
- Customers can’t tell you what they want. They can tell you what they like or don’t like. They can tell you about what concerns them. WATCH what they do instead. Then it is up to you to fix it, add value, and make money.
6. Your company IS the barrier
- Businesses are factories no matter what they produce. Business is managed for efficiency. Leaders have to worry about investing capital to get the best return for the invested dollar, and the return comes from what you deliver to your customers.
- Your company is set up to be efficient, not inventive. New things upset the balance and most people don’t like that. A status quo mentality will kill new creations every time.
7. There are no best practices
- Why shoot for being average, or doing what other people are doing? Do something new and different and your customers will love you. There are good tools, methods and frameworks available, but putting them together is YOUR job. Don’t ape what someone else has done.
8. Stop hoping to depend on lists and books by “the gurus”
- There is no list to follow or book to read that will give you all the answers. The lists ARE useful to help you create a frame of reference. Some of the books on the market do help provide a reader with the scope of the challenge. Instead, find and use tools to help you recognize patterns in user behavior, CHANGES in market trends, technology, etc.
- You are creating the future of your company. There is no proof that new concepts will succeed, only an educated guess based on what you have learned about your chosen customer and market. Creating the next new thing is a strategic choice. Choosing among the various options is what makes a company succeed or fail.
Companies in China, India, Russia and Brazil are coming after your markets and customers whether you like it or not. It is time to be prepared if your company is going to survive.
Roy Luebke is an innovation expert focused on discovering new, customer-driven opportunity areas to help define the future of a company. He is inspired by knowledge and learning, and applying structured tools and methods at the crossroads of strategy and innovation to achieve business growth.