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10 innovation mantras from the digital elite
The role models for digital innovation are not startups, they’re the startups-come-good that form today’s new digital elite. We call them…
The role models for digital innovation are not startups, they’re the startups-come-good that form today’s new digital elite. We call them Upstarts. These are the millennials of the corporate world — companies borne of the network with digital service thinking at their very centre. For our lessons in sustained innovation, we’ve looked at these upstarts. Read them, work by them and make them your business mantras.
By Mark Wilson, Founder Partner, Wilson Fletcher
1.Imagine yourself as a platform.
Think about your business as a platform and imagine what you could do as a platform business. Look at Facebook, Uber, Amazon — these are all platforms. The sooner you identify where and how you can make that transition, the sooner you’ll have an incredibly powerful foundation upon which to build — and have others build — innovative things.
2. Stimulate license, not methods.
Innovation comes from people, not methods. Sustained innovation is built on people who are close to problems, not methodologies. Build and maintain the licence within the organisation for people to recognise problems and take them all the way through to market-ready services. Ideas come from anywhere, and for companies like Dropbox, Google and Evernote, they make that central to how they operate.
3. Think about what you have in abundance and build with it.
Think of your legacy as a massive asset, not a constraint. History has value. Legacy can also mean deep expertise, insight into customers, even the ability to speak to customers — many things that startups would bite off your hand for.
4. Think of your customers as your Board, not your Board as your customers.
Make customers, not yourselves, your first approval gate. Avoid the board shaping the products that go out by determining customer viability first. Validate the opportunity with the people who will use and pay for it before you ask the Board for the money to make it happen.
5. Engineer your organisation to support your services.
Services are your interface to customers. For customers, our service is your business, so focus on them and adapt the organisation to suit. The organisation should underpin your service — not the other way round. Service-led strategy is the future.
6. Never set disruption as an objective.
Disruption is a consequence of innovation. Great ideas, well executed should always be the focus because if you achieve excellence, you might be disruptive, but you’ll definitely be more competitive and likely to succeed.
7. Never think about using technology as a differentiator.
Whatsapp, Twitter, Vine and Periscope are all built on relatively simple technologies, used intelligently. They think about the needs of the service and customer first, and have evolved and improved their technology over time. Focus on technology as your USP at your peril.
8. Never assume you can get it right alone.
Broad, multi-disciplinary thinking will lead to the majority of the future’s biggest innovations. No matter who you are, perspective is almost impossible to achieve from the inside, and it gets harder and harder over time so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember: the aim is to be as good as you can be, whatever it takes.
9. Never confuse strategy and vision.
Strategy is a bridge between vision and execution. No vision, no direction. No direction, no future. A compelling vision can drive an effective strategy, but never the other way around. If you don’t know where you want to go, plotting a route to get there is impossible.
10. Never try to innovate by being someone else.
Every organisation is unique. The key for sustainable innovation is to define your own formula, not to mimic someone else’s. You will never innovate successfully if you try to be someone else. Apple is Apple. Get over it.