While growth is the top priority for most organisations, roughly 90 percent of companies fail in sustaining growth over the long-term. Growth can be approached organically – by employing new and improved products and services to enhance revenue – or via mergers and acquisitions.
Neither approach has a very impressive track record. A research study published by Businessweek in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group concluded that 61 percent of the M&As included in the study actually eroded shareholder value. And on the organic front, research has shown that approximately 75 percent of new products introduced by established companies fail.
Although it’s more difficult to quantify, many companies today are also struggling with the concept of innovation – what it means to them and how exactly it contributes to their growth. For those responsible for delivering results, growth through innovation has generated a sense of risk and uncertainty. Many organisations do not understand the key variables that affect innovation, growth and the creation of new market space. Fortunately, experiential data is now available to draw viable conclusions about how to accelerate growth through innovation.
Following are six key tactics (6Ds) for successful innovation and growth.
Sometimes the very nature of innovation seems hazy and daunting, like sailing across a rough sea on a very cloudy, misty day. Those who know how to clear the haze and sail smoothly will see that innovation isn’t as elusive or difficult as it may seem. The Define phase enables you to identify the most important customer and business needs and expectations, providing a clear target on the horizon for your innovation journey. Successful innovation projects arise from high performing and diverse innovation teams. You need a well-balanced cross-functional team that is able to provide multiple perspectives.
Successful innovation is about capitalising on an opportunity to fulfil unmet customer expectations in a superior way. Discovering that superior way typically requires thinking beyond our experience and education, and beyond our own industry. The prescription is to search knowledge bases that exist outside your self, finding clues and direction. The key tactic to achieving this is to assemble innovation teams that are capable of flawless and speedy execution, and then manage these teams for high performance and collaboration. This is easier said than done. To begin with, the best teams will be composed of people with diverse problem-solving styles. Companies can use a set of assessments, inventories and management approaches to assemble effective and collaborative teams for specific growth projects.
Throughout the definition phase many issues of design are considered. What will the screens look like? How is this product going to be branded? Is the look of the project going to be edgy? Classy? How will the user navigate through the experience? These are all questions that will be answered during the Design portion of the project. This is also where the design team will determine the final look/feel of the project. Through the process of sketches, storyboards and interactive examples, the design team will develop the graphical user interface (or GUI) for the project as well as pull together all necessary assets for the final product, including illustrations, animations, photos, videos, and audio.
Most organisations go about refining their products and services – making them better – without first questioning their legitimacy. The Develop phase transforms your great ideas from the white board into workable models. The development portion of the project is when all of the vision, definition, design, and understanding of the project come together. It’s a time when the artists, programmers and content experts work feverishly to create workable, interactive prototypes of the final product. This portion of the project is filled with “alpha” deliverables, small snippets of working prototypes that allow the team to see the project in action. The goal is to build these alphas as “solidly flexible” as possible. That is, while you will want the alphas to be solid building blocks for the final product, they also need to be created in such a way that it allows for minor tweaks and adjustments that the development team feels will enhance the overall user experience.
You are now ready to prove the solution designs are feasible before spending significant time and money perfecting any one solution, and even more importantly, assess if the proposed concept is truly indicative of the identified need and will be adopted in the market. This phase helps you continue to reduce the number of assumptions and builds on the advantages of Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, Agile Design and Human-Centered Design principles. Using key business intelligence measurements and performance visibility linked to innovation and growth increases the likelihood of successful innovation results.
Once the team is confident that the most robust and stable beta has been achieved, the development team will deliver a “sample product.” The sample product is a version of the project that key stakeholders feel is ready for launch. The goal of this phase is to take one last look at the product to ensure that all of the bugs previously defined have been addressed to everyone’s satisfaction. Once everyone is in agreement that the product is complete and set for the final launch.
Successful innovation and growth is next to impossible without the majority of these key tactics in place. By systematising innovation and running innovation using a disciplined approach, top companies are outpacing the competition. If you employ a haphazard approach to innovation and are waiting for that “eureka” breakthrough moment for your next big product or service, sadly, you will be disappointed with the results.