Innovating for Future Growth


Innovating for Future Growth

Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. – Theodore Levitt

Companies need to innovate if they are to grow, and the process has become embedded in most modern marketing companies. To improve chances of success and to control how investment is made, product pipeline management (PPM) systems drive the process. As with all systemised processes, they can become the driver, not the facilitator, and there is a danger of the system narrowing the funnel too quickly in order to get through the assessment gates, resulting in a process of product tweaks and minor developments instead of transformational ideas.

So what about the ideas that lead to true innovation? Where under the aegis of the PPM did Nespresso emerge? Surely this was born from the trend toward individualisation and hence customisation. And Airbnb was clearly driven by more than merely the desire to travel. Experiences now trump ‘things’, and tourists don’t have experiences; travellers do—travellers staying in real people’s homes? Innovations such as these are transformational.

1. New ideas don’t exist in a vacuum; we need to create some context for creativity. We need a context, a framework and the right environment to allow nascent ideas to emerge. 

2. Because people like to do what others are doing, a cultural trends framework gives a broad starting point that is socially relevant. When ideas are developed that t within a growing trend, then as that trend gains momentum, people will see others adopting ideas that have originated from the same cultural shift. 

3. People like to portray an image of themselves and will react to ideas in a way reflecting that self-image. In the real world, people buy products outside of their self-image territory (consider how many self-described healthy eaters buy chocolate and wine). 

4. The industry is increasingly taking co-creation online, engaging larger communities. As a means of evolving user interfaces, for example, this can be cost-effective and productive. But for blue skies innovation, online interaction lacks the face-to-face connection necessary to building relationships that can unlock genuinely new connections and breakthrough creativity. 

5. Because successful ideas engage emotions, evaluation of ideas needs to address this both in how ideas are presented and in how people are asked to respond.