In search of balance and success.

Like other popularised terms, ‘innovation’ has gained a following amongst the masses. Many claim innovation in anything and everything they do, while others only accept innovation in its purest and most extreme form.

We’ve seen the term innovation evolve from an exclusively tech concept to a word that is used in every job description under the sun. Some think everyone needs a permanently screwed-on innovation hat, while others think a person or group dedicated to cracking the innovation whip, is needed. These are opposite ends of the spectrum with many working in-between.

Innovation is widely acknowledged as a catalyst for success and competitive advantage. Staying ahead of the curve means accepting the need to think differently and disrupting your own business periodically. If you think this way, you’re already ahead.

Innovation is especially relevant during times of crisis which force many to reimagine their businesses or ideate to solve problems  – problems we never thought we’d face.

A crisis creates many issues and forces us to rethink the norm. In doing so, it also generates many opportunities in the present and in the future. A crisis opens our eyes to the fact that ‘business as usual’ is unstable. This is our chance to strengthen our businesses and our economy. How can we mend the damage that affects things like supply chains, import/export, tourism or medical services? How can mending this damage create a stronger, better infrastructure post-crisis?

If you have an innovative idea that has the potential to help many in the current climate, you’ll likely think your window of opportunity is slim. I’ve spoken to so many with great ideas who succumb to urgency. Urgency is a compelling argument. The clock starts ticking and you feel like you need to get this show on the road.

You may want to get your solution out there because the faster you launch, the faster you can help. You may simply want to launch before someone else gets there first.

Yes, this is a race against time but here’s my perspective: balance is everything. 

Don’t leave yourself wondering why your much needed solution did not gain the traction it deserves. 

Don’t ignore urgency but don’t forego proof of concept either. I can write about proof of concept all day but here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to test if you’re on the right track:

1) What problem are you solving? This is a commonly misconstrued question. What I’m interested in is the problem for your customer. For example, climate change is a problem. For a business to get off the ground, your solution needs to solve a problem for a customer. The customer in this case is unlikely to be planet Earth, so, dig deep and ask yourself: what problem are you solving? This is not black and white. Both your problem and solution can adapt to the other but eventually you should reach clarity about why your solution is a solution to your customer’s problem.

2) Who is your customer? I use the word ‘customer’ loosely. A customer isn’t always obvious. Some are paying. Some aren’t. Understanding who your customer is, helps you shape your solution. Don’t rush into picking your one and only customer. Think outside the box. A good place to start when thinking about your customer and key stakeholders is by asking: Who affects your solution? Who will your solution affect?

3) Is a business launch your destination or is it just the beginning? Don’t lose sight of your journey. If you seek investment, you typically need to prove your concept so an investor can trust your solution is viable and worth the risk. If you already have the resources to deliver, there’s not much standing in your way but this article. Being consumed by urgency for the sake of a timely launch can backfire. It can stop you in your tracks soon after you’ve invested time and money. Or you may find yourself spending much more time and money rewinding your work.

Validation and proof of concept can save you resources in the long run, establish a higher conversion rate, and help you plan ahead. Don’t leave yourself wondering why your much needed solution did not gain the traction it deserves. 

More to come on validation and proof of concept in another article. If you need help accelerating your proof of concept, let’s chat!

For now, I encourage you to think outside the box. Innovation is for everyone.