Some of you might be familiar with the Diffusion of Innovation. It is a theory that seeks to explain how new ideas and technology spread and is typically used to explain consumers’ adoption of technology.
Through our course of work, we’ve come to realise this theory can also be used to describe the readiness of a business for innovation.
First we have the Innovators. They are companies that view innovation as a driver for their business. They constantly look at what they can do next, investing in R&D to create new technology, products and services to better serve their customers needs. They have a great creative culture, experiment often and learn from failure.
For them, being so ahead of the curve, they need to educate others on the benefits that their new product or services offer.
Early adopters are open to, but cautious about innovation. They are typically very aware of what leading businesses in their industry and similar industries are doing. After doing their homework, they create their own products and services inspired by what the innovators are doing.
Being earlier on the curve, their challenge is to convince customers of the value they provide and to adopt the solutions offered.
They try new ways of doing things, but are less consistent with doing so. They know they should innovate and are driven to do so due to a competitive business environment.
They typically innovate from outside in, focusing more on products and services they deliver, sometimes forgetting to change their internal processes to support what they deliver. They need to look their businesses not just from the front-end but also the back-end, so they continue to deliver what they aspire to do.
Being less open to innovation, they wait to see what works and what doesn’t work, enabling them to avoid the common pitfalls. They focus their energies on providing those products and services they are sure people need, but in a more efficient and streamlined manner.
As they arrive later on the market, gaining market share is a challenge as the innovators, early adopters and early majority have taken up a good chunk of market share.
Typically the most risk averse, they wait until almost all their peers and competitors have moved ahead before they realise “I need to do something”. They may not keep up with technology, often updating their processes only because the old way is far too inefficient and the new way is the norm.
They are often caught in a situation where they have to compete with other more innovative businesses. Due to their lack of innovation, they find it hard to survive. A vicious cycle of daily fire-fighting drains time and money, affording them little capacity for innovation.
What do you all think? We love to hear your thoughts, let us know in the comments below!
Many of us, stuck in the trenches of Design Thinking, have to challenge the status quo.
We have to convince, cajole, or fight with people to effect change. Change goes against established Orthodoxies or cultural norms, thus you would have likely heard a lot of: “Son, this is how things have always been done here…”
Kelli Richards, a 12 year Apple veteran, shares some of her tips to help get you going. (Words in brackets are mine.)
- Create a risk profile for your current strategy the way you would for a new opportunity. Looking at the trends you already know about—and considering you’ll inevitably face some that you so far don’t—how does maintaining the status quo increase your risk? (Map out relevant trends that is going to make your existing business model outdated.)
- Show how the steps you recommend can lead to an increased return on investment, keeping in mind that you’ll need to define ROI in a way that resonates with upper management. (This may not always be about money. Customer loyalty, increased traffic, brand awareness are good alternatives.)
- Shine the spotlight on indecision and help teammates get more comfortable taking action with incomplete information. Ask, “How much do we really need to know before making a decision?” (Also remind your team mates that when we made a decision, it was based on the information we knew then.)
- Diplomatically resolve turf wars that hold the company back. When new products risk cannibalizing old businesses, emotions unavoidably get heated. Still, it’s better for an internal department to innovate than for an external competitor to gain an advantage. (Better us then them.)
Great article by Benedict Evans who shares a lot of good information on why Microsoft is going to die.
The apps that people want on smartphones are not being written for desktop Windows anyway. Uber doesn’t have a desktop Windows app, and neither does Instacart, Pinterest or Instagram. The apps and services that consumers care about are either smartphone-only or address the desktop using the web, with only partial exceptions for the enterprise. You can’t tempt developers to support Windows Phone by saying ‘it’s easy to deploy your desktop app to mobile’ if there is no desktop app. So Windows is not a point of leverage for Microsoft in mobile. Neither was Office. Few people really want to edit an Office document on a phone – a viewer is normally enough. And as Blackberry also discovered, enterprise support is not enough if the broader phone experience is sub-par. As Apple has added enterprise features, the appeal of Windows Phone has fallen away there too.
This is an unfortunate result of “Legacy Thinking”. After being entrenched with their Windows platform for the longest time, it is time that Microsoft slaughters their last “sacred cow” if they really want to reinvent their business in the age of the Smartphone.
A soon to be fantastic case study on how large organisations should (or should not) innovate.
Photo Source: Flickr
It is the ability to identify patterns of insights and “connect the dots” in a meaningful way.
Bruce Nussbaum, in a blog post: 3 Paths Toward A More Creative Life, calls it “Pattern Sight”.
Pattern sight requires you to master the skill of looking for what should and shouldn’t be there. It’s the ability not only to see the rare “odd duck” but to routinely look for that duck and see it…It takes time to learn patterns of information, which is why you need to spend a lot of time “in the field.”
We call that “experience,” and you’ve seen that whenever you’re in a situation with someone who just “knows” what’s coming next without being able to explain it. That person is reading the patterns. This mastery is not about fresh eyes but wise eyes.
Many people use Design Thinking as a methodology for problem solving, innovation, or just figuring out what to do next. The key ingredient to arriving to the best solutions comes from identifying these patterns.
This is also the key reason why you cannot completely learn Design Thinking through, for example, a 3 day program or even one that is a week or more. We know, because we have been teaching it for years.
Most DT training programs will perhaps, at best, give you an introduction to Design Thinking and its value. However getting it done right requires experience, experience that stems from years of deliberate practice in identifying such patterns and applying it positively.
I like to expand this skill to also include the (overlapping) ability to reframe problems and situations. Many people look at reframing as simply turning negative to positive, or going from “left” to “right”. It’s a lot more.
This quote sums it up nicely and also my blog post today. Have a great week ahead!
Thus the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees.
-Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860