A lot has changed for businesses in the recent years, but one thing remains that same, the need to maximize value and deliver superior results. The problem is that the business environment is becoming increasingly uncertain, change happens too soon, too fast and in some cases can be quite drastic.
Think about it like this, let’s assume that you live in a beautiful island and for many years you have enjoyed a great life there. Unfortunately, you are beginning to realize that this island is starting to sink due to the drastically changing climate and unless you find a new place to live, you will eventually go down with the island. You have employed every means you know to find a new territory, but you are realizing that the means you use are too slow, inflexible or too big to find new fertile grounds. Faster and smaller boats are finding all the nice and fertile territories, and even when you do get lucky and find a place that seems promising you are too slow to decide because you just don’t know and there is no way to find out with the means you currently use. You end up delaying because you feel safe, your island is still there today and probably the threat is not that dramatic after all, so you feel that you have more time.
New tools, methodologies and ways of working such as design thinking, lean startup, design sprints, customer journey mappings, agile and others have emerged because they can help businesses navigate in conditions of high uncertainty. Unlike established businesses, startups don’t have the security of an existing business and can leap into uncertainty without thinking twice. This practice gave rise to all these new methodologies, that have proven right for many companies.
However, these tools and methodologies cannot exist without the right mindset and commitment to drive them forward. In the example above, it is like someone giving you one of those new, fast and agile boats (new methodologies) that everyone else is using to find new territories, but you can’t even get it started! You will need to provide the right fuel (commitment) and the right driver (mindset) if you want to be successful in the new business landscape and find a fertile territory for your business.
A great way to start is to just … start!
Central to the new mindset is the idea that unless you have evidence, you are just assuming. So, until you start and run your first session, action, or program and get evidence on how applying a new methodology can impact your organization, division or team, you basically just make assumptions. The only way to answer an assumption is by getting real evidence (data) through trial (experimentation).
In one company I am working with, we started by organizing a one-week session for the younger managers, with the objective to solve real business challenges using a mix of new methodologies like design thinking, and lean startup. It turned out that in just one week the teams were able to save significant time and money for the company, by uncovering hidden insights for the specific business challenges. At the same time, we were able to identify those young managers, that could become Ambassadors of the new mindset. In another company, we run a Customer Empathy Day in order to bring light for specific customer groups and also introduce a new approach to the organization.
The results were similar for both cases and served as the beginning of a journey that is very different for each company. Of course, how you will choose to start becoming more innovative as a company depends on the level of readiness of the organization for adopting innovative methodologies. Some companies might choose to run one or two sessions and get familiar, while others might be ready to design a holistic program towards innovation at all levels.
So, as you think and discuss about how to approach innovation in your company, you are basically generating assumptions. The longer you wait to take action and make the first step, the longer your assumptions remain unanswered and the longer you stay in a sinking island.
The best way forward is to start moving forward!