For the year ahead we have to start thinking outside of the box.
Customers will want to see you are leading the way forward whilst answering their core problem, this has not changed, but the number of competitors and smart offerings have.
Staying relevant has never been as challenging for businesses as it is today, especially with quicker tech cycles and the ability to develop apps and businesses and unbundle industries.
Even the biggest market leaders have to innovate. Seems obvious but it is often overlooked or goes unspoken.
For the companies I have worked at or advised, Innovation is actually a core pillar to disruptor and market leaders strategy, having the desire and drive to innovate their product and services to acquire more customers and retain existing customers.
Those who cannot build internally, look externally, others who want to build but don’t have the team often bring in external resources.
2020 – Forcing Functions
This year we saw even the largest brands build out direct to consumer offerings in record timing and look to continue offering these innovative steps.
Innovation doesn’t have to big or intimidating, it can be smaller moves towards your company being more relevant or becoming a bigger player, it can be small changes that lead to a much better product offering or it could be a way to preposition pricing.
From some of the most successful businesses I have worked with, it is often the smallest steps that enables step changes.
Offline to Online Example
O20 (Offline to Online) was something that was overlooked and “hard to track”, QR codes were rarely used and then had to explode with usage as the world shifted.
QR codes became standard practise in the Western World, is the next step following more of Chinese use cases and applying a QR code to our identity and buying directly for items? Most likely.
Tech Shifts – Causing User Issues
Whatsapp shifting to allow shopping via their support business feature and Instagram fundamentally shifting their app from creator first to shopping first were huge steps towards making these more diverse, more profitable while innovating.
Users will keep on using both WhatsApp and Instagram, they will still go live and perform, they will still chat in their large groups on WhatsApp, they will still forward meme’s and ask for help.
We Are Not All Equal
It is important to call out, not every company can be like Tesla, not all companies can be in the same ten-year planning and ruthless company strategy executing cycle like Jeff Bezos at Amazon.
Innovation can be buying a company and having the foresight to invest for growth and being early. Amazon famously brought Twitch in 2014, 2020 was Twitch’s year of evolving away from just live gaming.
These examples of large companies help to serve you in discussions with the most senior and most cynical. Other examples of restaurants pivoting and offering cook and bake at home are other examples that show foresight and business acumen.
Never Fear Change & Innovation
Innovation should not be something you and your company fears, one of the main reasons is placing a big bet on a larger spend to bring the future to vs doing what you have always done can feel intimidating, it can strike fear in those who do not see the future or have future seers internally, or do not understand the shift in and around them.
The biggest fear in most board rooms is doing it differently, having to ask someone brave enough to explain in the greatest detail for the change and the investment requests.
I have spent months of my life, analysing markets, understanding the SAM, TAM and mapping out the landscape and predicting the future through spreadsheets and presentations.
Tweaking, repitching, repositioning for it to be rejected because others do not see it or do not have the confidence in change the numbers means change and almost everyone hates change.
Some others just are not wired to understand and drive change, some builders do not want to use new materials, some chefs won’t use new ingredients, companies act the same way.
Small Steps Will Help You Win
Innovation can mean investing in a Growth department or growth advisor to help develop out steps towards innovation. Innovation can mean running a larger test into product enhancements every quarter, it could mean repurposing some of the Marketing spend on research and development.
No Fear Moving Forward
Innovation can be core to positively improving company culture. One of the main reasons stars leave an organisation is the lack of direction or wanting to change, accept ideas and innovate.
Do not fear innovation, do not allow old ways of thinking to dictate your moves forward. Our conditioning will always challenge our thinking but it is important to open your eyes to change and keep using your ears to help guide your steps forward, even if it seems a huge leap of faith.
Here are five roles for 2021 that will help you gain more success next year.