You Must Urgently Learn A New Approach to Innovation Or Accept the Results!
The world is changing rapidly around us and you must change as well. I have worked with dozens of dozens of Fortune 500 companies so I know. How you approach innovation is likely not working based on countless studies. I have also “seen behind the curtain” as they say in the classic Wizard of Oz. This article is for those seeking to find a better way to drive real growth and innovation success. Our studies show that is about 15% of you at most.
We don’t just consult, coach and teach at Eureka! Inventing but we have actually done it in senior marketing positions with great success for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Novartis, J&J, Coca-Cola and American Express. Eureka! Inventing is about 30 years old and our company has run innovation projects for over 500 companies around the world. We have seen every imaginable approach and have become experts on human behavior when it comes to innovation success or failure.
Here are three things that you must do to get improved results with innovation
1. Must move faster in filtering out the real winners before your exhaustion and weariness kills them!
I see countless teams uncover the seed of a big, new idea but they are exhausted or weary before they finish the upfront work to determine if it should be pursued. The solution to this challenge is to GO FASTER upfront but how do you do that in current corporate structures? You must change your mindset and approach but outside help is almost always necessary to teach and coach the teams on how to do this effectively. There are proven ways to do this to take the time for the vetting down by 50-80%.
The secret to why this works is that truly breakthrough ideas usually have a set amount of time before fear, laziness, apathy, etc. set-in to ensure they get “put on the back burner”. This is essentially means they will never get worked on. I have seen countless ideas that are great but never really get looked at seriously and then are killed because it is assumed they must not be a big idea because they haven’t moved forward. The reality is that the teams don’t even know where to start because it is totally new and different so the easiest path is to just kill it. By going faster you are taking advantage of the natural optimism right after the idea was created when most still think it might be possible. Time has a way of killing that positive energy and making it seem impossible.
2. Stop expecting a miracle to occur with the “same old thing” – get real!
Often the senior leader will look at the rest of the ideas after they kill the ones that are unique and ask “where are the big ideas”, and of course they are in the junk pile. The translation is that they want a big and incremental idea with the effort and lack of disruption of a “me-too” product. For novice marketers and consultants they will accept this challenge and try to convince the organization that this is possible. This is why in a lot of companies years and years go by with no progress on innovation.
You must stop the madness! You need to have honest, direct and blunt conversations about past results and learning so that you change the results. Even if you want closer-in line extensions and products they still must provide something meaningfully unique to expect anything incremental. Often teams will tell me that they don’t need outside help because they are doing “close in” innovation. Our research shows that even closer-in ideas need to be more new and different than ever before to maintain margins and hit sales goals. There are no “layups” anymore with innovation due to the internet, globalization, pace of technology etc. Part of the reason that this continues to happen is that senior leaders are not asking tough enough questions with proposals and recommendations for product introductions. Additionally, if you don’t have anything else in the pipeline due to a poor innovation system you tend to make bad bets. In other words, scarcity of ideas creates bad behavior and decisions.
3. You need a proven structure and system to how you approach innovation – winging it doesn’t work!
In working with some of the top companies in the U.S. I am amazed at how little structure and system exists internally on how to innovate successfully. They rely on hiring smart people and hope they can produce cool products. The vast majority of these companies do not have a system for inventing, vetting and accelerating ideas. You have systems for accounting, purchasing, hiring people, manufacturing, etc. but you don’t have one for determining where future growth (and survival) is going to come from? Why?
I believe its because leaders just don’t want to change. They achieved real success with their current approach so why change now? Why? Because the world has changed dramatically over the past 10-15 years and you must as well. I also believe that a lot of leaders just don’t care enough. Yup! Most leaders and middle managers just don’t care enough to make the changes necessary to achieve significantly greater success.
We have seen a dramatic shift in companies where our Innovation Engineering system was introduced that enables and empowers everyone to contribute and make contributions. Often we see the number of ideas invented and put through a rapid cycle development process go up 300-600% versus the previous period. We see the value of their pipeline go up 200- 500%. And most importantly their job satisfaction rises dramatically as well.
To help diagnose what your team needs please reach out and we can run a complimentary innovation readiness assessment online to compare your team versus world-class. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce Hall is the CEO and President of Eureka! Inventing, the leader in strategy, growth, innovation and systems with 700+ clients in its history. Their Innovation Engineering approach is a break-through approach to Create, Communicate and Commercialize Ideas on the Front-End and Back-End of innovation. He also has held senior marketing positions with Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Novartis. He can be reached at email@example.com.