Looking from the outside it is often easy to see where so many businesses go wrong when it comes to innovation, and having been in this game for a while it is often easy to spot new ideas that just aren’t going to work. As we have seen with companies like Toys R’Us and Blockbuster however, there is a clear reminder that if a business fails to innovate then it will die, there really is no two ways about it. Unfortunately however this has then stirred up an attitude in the business community of constant innovation and a rush to do so which results in the wrong approach or the wrong timing, often both.
The key to outside innovation is inner innovation and here is what that should look like.
The Issues Currently
Here are the key issues where most businesses fail when it comes to leading innovation. The first issue is that they just miss the beat, they aim to take things so far away from what their core business is that the impact of it just gets lost. Apple for example may wish to make the greatest car that has ever been made, but even they would have to take some baby steps into that industry first. Another problem is the rush to innovate which leads to clumsy ideas which lack structure and delivery. Finally we see companies who labor on with new ideas that clearly aren’t working, when they should really cut the cord and take the loss.
Starting within is about weighing up what the company wants to look like in the market, not what it believes the market should make it look like. Innovation is about aligning the business with new trends which still fit in with the company’s values. Innovation within will look like the harvesting of new ideas from the workforce and the key stakeholders, lengthy research into the development and the creation of those ideas and finally a dip-the-toe test to find out how the idea may be received. To go back to that Blockbuster example, they were faced with the possibility of moving online years before they went bust, but their research found that people like the idea of grabbing a snack with their DVD. Many think that Blockbuster failed to innovate but that wasn’t the case, they just did it completely wrongly. Why was this you may ask? Because they believed that doubling down on their values and ignoring customer trends was all the innovation they needed. This was rushed, poorly managed and they picked and chose the data that fit the narrative they were trying to push.
Inner innovation is about taking the Blockbuster approach, and then adding serious reason, listening to the market and the customers and using those important pieces of data to lead the change. Focusing on the outside first will always have negative consequences when it comes to innovation.