Are you innovating like a gambler?


In a world that is changing ever faster, innovation has become a key focus of almost all companies worldwide. Don't even try to Google the word 'innovation'; you will be overwhelmed with 390,000,000 in less than 0,44 seconds. However, innovation is easier said than done. Many companies are confronted with several obstacles and struggle along their path towards a successful launch of new products, services or business models. Why? Because they treat innovation as going to the casino. They behave as gamblers not as innovators. Take a minute to reflect on the following questions to find out if you are a real innovator gambler. Can you agree with following statements:

1. In our company we like the 'just-do-it' innovation mentality. We give it a try and just see where we will end up. 2. In our company R&D has 100% responsibility for developing new products. 3. In our company the marketing department has 100% responsibility for developing new services. 4. In our company we don't need to talk to our customers, we know exactly what they want. Just because we know it! 5. In our company we love to observe our competitors. If our competitor has solved a problem we try it as well. Because that's just how it works in our sector.

How many times did you answer positively? Once or more? Congratulations, you are an innovation gambler! Because sticking to one of the above procedures automatically turns your innovation efforts into a very risky action, your chance to go for a successful outcome will almost be as high (or low) as placing a bet in the casino.

If you want to move to the next level you will have to take innovation seriously and you will have to adopt some strict rules. Here's my essential list that might help you to develop new products, services or business models more successfully.

1. Go for a mixed team. Innovation demands a multidisciplinary and interdepartmental approach. 2. Listen to your customers. You need to find out what there struggles, frictions and wishes are. We all know our customers very well until we sit down with them and listen & observe. 3. Get out of your comfort zone. The best ideas don't come from within your sector, they come from outside your company, outside your sector, outside your comfort zone. So observe trends & technology, get fresh insights from completely other sectors or just stick to your favorite computer and surf on sites like TED, slideshare and springwise to collect mind blowing inspiration. 4. Take a clear focus. Know what you aim for, what you want to achieve with innovation, it will guide you during your innovation journey. 5. Mix & match out-the-box creativity with in-the-box management, they go hand in hand. In the end you need to turn your creative ideas into concrete, realistic and viable business models. 6. And finally, adopt a structured innovation process.

I hope these guidelines will help you to get out of the casino trap.

InspirationSara Pieters