With the circuit breaker measures affecting our daily routine in life, it has forced us to change the way we think and work. Most businesses were forced to close and re-innovate the way they operate. But why is innovation so important – especially now?

People want new. They want different. They only talk about stuff they find inspiring.

Advocacy driven businesses have 3 choices:

  1. Stay in Advocacy and accept the growth potential as slow and in-line with changes in customer behaviour. Advocacy works at the speed of doing tenders, partnerships or the sales force bringing in new customers.
  2. Seek out new customers by using paid methods like Adwords (Attention). This only works while the cost of acquiring a customer is less than the margin being made. In many mature markets, this is no longer the case.
  3. Move to become an Authority or Prime. The Authority business gains many more customers than Advocacy or Attention driven businesses. We seek out the Authority. To become an Authority, other authorities or peer review publications must reference and quote you. For that to happen, you must have something new to add to the conversation that will lead to commercial success. You must innovate!

Innovations = New Ideas Commercialised

If new, ‘innovative’ ideas could be stacked on top of each other, they would fill any company warehouse within a week. The challenge isn’t getting new ideas. It’s getting ideas that overcome diagnosed business challenges extending from the Digital Business Strategy.

Innovation is now a necessary component of any business that wants to become an Authority within its industry. To become an authority, a business must gain earned media from other industry authorities or influencers. That means your ideas must be published and recognised as thought leading. Your ideas must be shared online. Your ideas must spread. Simply being good at what you do does not make you a thought leader.

Not All Ideas Are Born Equal

Giving innovation teams free reign to come up with wild and ambitious plans (or moonshots, as they’re called at Google) is the preserve of the filthy rich and inexperienced. Approaching innovations should be focused on solving challenges diagnosed in the Digital Business Strategy. Selecting the right innovation to pursue should be mathematical and easy to evaluate.

Using an evaluation model has great advantages:

  1. Contributors know why their ideas were rejected.
  2. Contributors focus on what’s important to the business if their idea is to become worthy.
  3. Shooting show ponies becomes less of a team killer.

Successful Leaders Shoot Show Ponies

Once the latest innovation has been picked and the team brought together to make it a reality, it soon becomes the lighthouse of change. The new idea is paraded around the organisation with accompanying whispers of “this is our future”. The new project has become an internal show pony. It is loved, it is exciting, and it contains the hopes and dreams of a prosperous future.

Then along comes a better opportunity. One the business could exploit faster, which has better alignment with the Digital Business Strategy, less risk and better opportunity for yielding more revenue than the current innovation. It could open a new market and propel the business toward being the thought leader. But there are no resources to take advantage of the new idea. That is, unless someone shoots the much loved show pony.

The death of the pony results in mourning, but everyone gets over it. The real challenge is reassembling a team and inspiring them to do great things when they know their next show pony could face the same fate at any time.

Most leaders make excuses to finish out the current project. Good leaders kill the pony. Brilliant leaders inspire the team to apply the same passion toward the next innovation.

Every Business Can Innovate

Good service isn’t an innovation, it’s an expectation. Being known for something positive that has a differentiating, tangible marketplace proposition is essential in a digital world. Maybe your restaurant makes the world’s best soufflé or you have the best predictive modelling software on buying habits. Whatever it is, focus all marketing on highlighting your innovation. If a customer is on your website they probably know what you do. They want to know what you do differently.