I was at the Creativity World Forum in Kortrijk on 5&6 November, 2014. My first takeaway from the forum – across the speakers’ line-up – is a shift in discourse. Where the classic approach to innovation is one where you have
- Exploration or a fuzzy front-end, “where opportunities are identified and concepts are developed prior to entering the formal product development process” (source: wikipedia).
- Development, in which a product and go-to-market strategy are being created.
- Exploitation or an entrepreneurship phase with the actual selling of the product/service and in which you see replication: the creation of faithful copies of the product/service in the most efficient manner.
Now that has come to an end.
Iterations, iterations, iterations
Not that we shouldn’t do those activities anymore. No, in stead of doing them sequentially, we should do them all at the same time, with interdisciplinary teams and involvement of customers and/or other stakeholders (co-creation and testing). You have to go through iterations of exploration, development and (beta-)release in one short time frame. You can add more quality and detail in every iteration, incorporating feedback from your target groups in each next iteration.
Why 9 out of 10 new products fail
Today 90% of all new product launches fail, said CWF speaker prof. Marion Debruyne, who studied innovation with customers/users for Flanders DC at the Vlerick Business School. They do not meet market expectations. Between idea and product launch customers are often not consulted. An iterative (or: agile) approach helps to make what the market expects and really needs.
Some more figures: 52% of today’s productivity gains in organisations come from connections – how the organisation and its employees are connected internally and externally. 77% of new products in scientific instruments come from users, not companies. 85% of new banking services are user generated. 84% of new companies in children products are started by users. 43% in skiing, snowboarding, skating.
6% of all people modify or adapt products to better suit their needs. If you can tap into those R&D capabilities, you may double, triple or even quadruple your innovation resources. If you don’t tap into those resources, you are actually creating competitors. Most people become entrepreneurs out of frustration that companies are not picking up their ideas to make products better.
Conclusion: become agile and involve your audience
There are 2 truths I want to share as a conclusion:
- No business plan has ever survived contact with the target audience.
- Nobody can tell upfront what they want exactly.
People need to experience your product/service (demo), and be able to give feedback for you to adapt along the way. That is why you should ship as fast as possible, test and adapt. Become agile, incorporate short iteration cycles in your way of working.
You’d be surprised about people’s creativity in putting your product to use.