How good do you really need to be?
It’s easy to say you want to shoot for the moon. Be careful what you wish for. Risk and reward go hand in hand, and efforts to build tomorrow’s growth can cost you points on this quarter’s results.
But you almost certainly need to enhance your innovation game. Where should you begin?
Consider this. When you first meet with a professional tennis or golf coach, you start by explaining what you’re trying to achieve. Are you going after Olympic gold, or a friendly pick-up game?
Once the coach knows your goals, there next question: “Show me your swing“.
Match your ambition to your capabilities and real tolerance for pain. A good diagnosis starts by acknowledging where you stand today.
- Where have you innovated in the past? What capabilities aided your cause? These are you “innovation assets”.
- What impediments did you face? These are your “innovation liabilities.”
- What is the cadence for innovation, where is it focused, and what tangible indicators demonstrate your competency level?
Start in the market. How do you characterize your customers. Who are they? How do they relate to you (literally what words do they use to describe the problem to be solved, and your reputation for solving it?) A thorough understanding requires you to immerse yourself in customer behaviors – deeply appreciate their motivations and real actions, not just their words and claims.
Of course there are dozens of other questions you need to answer about your customers (and the many potential buyers who are NOT your customers).
You should investigate the surrounding market, some of which needs to be scanned for big data indicators. Serial innovators understand customers in the context of changing market dynamics – how are behaviors changing? How are problems morphing? What expectations are being redefined by adjacent solutions? Retailers cannot satisfy themselves to compare to each other – they have to recognize compete with Amazon and Alibaba, as well as countless apps and upstart services that threaten to disrupt them even further. Is your business model any less threatened?
Then you push back through the assets you control – from your brand through your product/service attributes and back through the channel to your production capabilities – continuing right out the back door into your supplier network. This includes all sources of input to your value chain – talent, capital, data and production material.
How would your organization score on your overall capacity to identify unmet market demand and anticipate frustrated customer needs? How agile are you in designing and delivering new solutions to meet new needs? How profitably do you capitalize on your insights?
Who are you scared of? What will it take to continue to build market leadership?